Abstract

Potassium-argon dating of Tertiary igneous rocks in Lander County, central Nevada, indicates that igneous activity was episodic and can be separated into three periods. Igneous activity started abruptly about 37 m.y. ago with local extrusion of andesitic to quartz-latitic lava flows and intrusion of hypabyssal rocks of similar composition. This activity ceased about 33 m.y. ago and was followed by extrusion of rhyolite ash-flow sheets that blanketed large parts of the region. These ash-flow sheets range from about 34 to 22 m.y. in age. The final phase, represented by basalt and basaltic-andesite flows and intrusive rhyolite flow-dome complexes, took place about 16 to 10 m.y. ago.

Andesitic to dacitic lava and hypabyssal rocks about 35 m.y. old are widespread east of Lander County and rhyolitic ash-flow tuffs 34 to 20 m.y. old are found south and east of Lander County. The younger (16 to 10 m.y.) basalt and basaltic-andesite flows are related to volcanism of the Snake River plain province to the north.

The precision of the ages was evaluated by means of: (1) repeat analyses of the same mineral separate, (2) age determination of mineral pairs from the same hand specimen, and (3) age determinations on widely spaced samples from the same geologic body or formation. The last method seems most meaningful from a geologic point of view.

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