Note: This paper is dedicated to Aaron and Elizabeth Waters on the occasion of Dr. Waters' retirement.
Tholeiitic basalt flows and breccias of Miocene age in western Oregon and Washington form three distinct stratigraphic units. Each unit was erupted from coastal vents marked by dikes and sills of the same composition as associated extrusive rocks. The three coastal basalt units are interbedded with predominantly marine sedimentary rocks of middle to late Miocene age. These units are here named, from older to younger, the Depoe Bay Basalt, Cape Foulweather Basalt, and basalt of Pack Sack Lookout. The three units can be distinguished by their petrographic characteristics. The Depoe Bay Basalt is nonporphyritic; Cape Foulweather Basalt has sparse large labradorite phenocrysts; and Pack Sack basalt has labradorite phenocrysts with numerous pyroxene and glass inclusions as well as augite and olivine phenocrysts. Chemical analyses of basalts from these three units show that each has a distinct and uniform composition. The Depoe Bay Basalt is characterized by high SiO2 content; the Cape Foulweather Basalt has high content of total iron, TiO2, and P2O5; and Pack Sack basalt is marked by relatively high MgO and CaO content.
The Depoe Bay Basalt, Cape Foulweather Basalt, and basalt of Pack Sack Lookout on the coast occur in the same stratigraphic order and are essentially the same ages as three basalt units that erupted on the Columbia Plateau. The plateau-derived units are the Yakima and late-Yakima petrographic types of Waters (1961) and the Pomona flow of Schmincke (1967). The virtual identity in chemical composition of the Depoe Bay Basalt and Yakima-type basalt, the Cape Foulweather Basalt and the late-Yakima–type basalt, and the Pack Sack basalt and the Pomona basalt flow indicate that each pair is consanguineous.
Fissure vents for the plateau basalt are located in eastern Oregon and Washington and western Idaho more than 500 km east of the coastal vent areas. Thus, a regional mechanism of magma generation or emplacement is required. Three models of magma genesis considered in this report are: (1) partial melting of the subducted Juan de Fuca plate; (2) partial melting along a nearly horizontal shear zone at the base of the American plate; and (3) partial melting within the asthenosphere and fractionation during ascent of the magma.