Abstract

Directions of natural remanent magnetization are used to identify and correlate individual cooling units in the middle Tertiary ash-flow province in central and eastern Nevada and western Utah. Potassium-argon dating indicates that the minimum time between eruptions of individual but genetically related ash-flow cooling units is on the order of 0.8 m.y. As this interval is long in comparison with the secular variation of the direction of the geomagnetic field, in a given volcanic province the direction of natural thermoremanent magnetization is a unique characteristic of each cooling unit. Ash-flow sheets investigated include the Stone Cabin Formation, the tuff of Pancake Summit, the Windous Butte Formation, the Needles Range Formation, the Bates Mountain Tuff, and the tuff of Clipper Gap, of Oliogcene to early Miocene age. The original areas of individual ash-flow cooling units are as great as 8,000 km2; the volumes, 1,300 km3. The paleomagnetic correlations, made over distances up to 200 km, confirm most of the previously made lithologic correlations and allow more accurate delineation of single cooling units. These correlations are particularly useful in those parts of the Basin and Range province where the Tertiary stratigraphic section consists mainly of ash-flow sheets, and the outcrops are confined to mountain ranges that are separated by alluvium-filled valleys.

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