Abstract

We here explore the temporal and spatial relationships between the contrasting sources for two eruptive episodes that collectively represent the Whakamaru Group, the largest ignimbrite-forming sequence in the ∼2 m.y. history of the Taupo Volcanic Zone in New Zealand. At 349 ± 4 ka (weighted mean at 2σ), the >1500 km3 widespread Whakamaru Group ignimbrites and ∼700 km3 Rangitawa Tephra fallout were erupted in association with collapse of the 40 km long by 25 km wide rectilinear Whakamaru caldera. New 40Ar/39Ar age data presented here show that the co-magmatic >110 km3 Paeroa Subgroup ignimbrites, previously included as part of the Whakamaru Group, are slightly younger and were erupted at 339 ± 5 ka (weighted mean at 2σ). New field evidence also presented here demonstrates that the Paeroa Subgroup ignimbrites came from a source geographically separated from vents for the widespread Whakamaru Group ignimbrites. The presence of co-ignimbrite lag breccias, sizes of vent-derived lithic clasts, thicknesses of exposed and subsurface deposits, and morphologies of deposits imply that eruptions of the Paeroa Subgroup occurred from a linear source (the Paeroa linear vent zone), coinciding with the present-day northeast-striking Paeroa fault, and outside (northeast) of the earlier Whakamaru caldera collapse area. No separate caldera has been recognized, although three nearby areas may have undergone eruption-related subsidence. Residual magma from the Whakamaru or adjacent Kapenga caldera areas may have migrated toward the Paeroa linear vent zone during eruptive episodes, resulting in subsidence in either, or both, of these areas. Shallow plutons are also inferred to lie beneath near source fault blocks (Paeroa and Te Weta) on each side of the fault, and eruption-related subsidence may have been expressed as movement across the Paeroa fault and localized subsidence in the southern Paeroa fault block. Subsequent secular, rift-related displacement along the Paeroa fault has obscured the Paeroa linear vent zone.

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