Abstract

Samples from a fossil fumarole originating in the 1912 ash-flow tuffin the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes have been analyzed to ascertain chemical changes resulting from high-temperature fumarolic alteration and subsequent cooling and weathering of the protolith. Samples of the underlying, dominantly leached, dacite-rich portion of the ash-flow tuff adjacent to the fumarolic conduit and samples of encrusted fallout from the shallow part of the fossil fumarole were interpreted using the isocon method of Grant (1986). The results show that, relative to unaltered l9l2 dacite, chosen as a standard composition for the protolith in this fossil fumarole, mass was conserved during the alteration reactions for most of the system, but mass gains of l4–2D% were determined for three samples in the leached ash-flow tuff Relative to unaltered dacite protolith, significant enrichments occurred in SO3, LOI (~H2O), Cl, F, Zn, Pb, Cu, Sn, Cr, Ni, As, Sb, Au, Br in various parts of the fossil fumarole. Some of these were during the high-temperature part of the alteration, and some were during cooling processes when acid alteration becomes prominent. The REEs indicate some depletion in highly altered samples relative to dacite protolith and differential mobility of Eu2+ relative to trivalent REEs. This is manifested by positive Eu anomalies in REE patterns normalized against REE in the dacite protolith.

Mineral phases introduced in the alteration assemblages include alunite reflecting high SO3, activity, hydrated aluminum hydroxy-fluoride (a ralstonite-like phase) and fluorite reflecting high F activity, smectite, magnetite, hematite, and goethite reflecting oxidation and hydration reactions. Opal and a portion of the α-cristobalite reflect SiO2, mobility; however, the abundance of α-cristobalite is formed from pumice leached during high-temperature vapor-phase processes and devitrification of the altered glass.

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