Geochemistry and geochronology of the jim sage volcanic suite, southern idaho: Implications for snake river plain magmatism and its role in the history of basin and range extension

Alexandros Konstantinou, John Valley, Ariel Strickland, Elizabeth L. Miller, Chris Fisher, Jeffrey Vervoort, Joseph Wooden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Jim Sage volcanic suite (JSVS) exposed in the Jim Sage and Cotterel Mountains of southern Idaho (USA) consists of two volcanic members composed of ~240 km3 of Miocene rhyolite lavas separated by an interval of lacustrine sediments. It is capped by rheomorphic ignimbrite and as much as 100 m of basaltic lava fl ows probably derived from the central Snake River Plain (SRP) province to the north. The occurrence of volcanic vents in the JSVS links the lava fl ows to their local eruptive centers, while the adjacent Albion-Raft River-Grouse Creek metamorphic core complex exposes ~3000 km2 of once deep-seated rocks that offer constraints on the composition of the potential crustal sources of these rhyolites. U-Pb zircon ages from the rhyolite lavas of the JSVS range from 9.5 to 8.2 Ma. The Miocene basalt of the Cotterel Mountains has an 87Sr/86Sri composition of 0.7066-0.7075 and εNd(i) = -3.7, and the rhyolite lavas of the JSVS have 87Sr/86Sri = 0.7114-0.7135 and εNd(i) values that range from -6.7 to -7.1. Zircon from the rhyolites of the JSVS range in δ18Ozr (Vienna standard mean ocean water, VSMOW) from -0.5‰ to 5.7‰ and have εHf(i) values ranging from -0.8 to -6.8. Based on geochronology, whole-rock major elements, trace elements, isotopes (Sr and Nd), and in situ zircon O and Hf isotopic compositions, we infer that the JSVS is genetically related to the central SRP province. The eruption of the low-δ18O rhyolites of the JSVS, outside of the main topographic extent of the SRP province (without the large calderas inferred for the SRP rhyolites) implies that there might be an alternative mechanism for the formation of the low-δ18O signature other than the proposed assimilation of hydrothermally altered caldera blocks. One suggestion is that the north to south propagation of SRP-type low-δ18O rhyolitic melt along the Albion fault led to off-axis magmatism. Another possibility is that there was prior and widespread (across a region wider than the SRP) hydrothermal alteration of the crust related to its earlier magmatic and faulting history. The eruption of SRP-type lavas in the hanging wall of an evolving metamorphic core complex helps us outline the role of the SRP magmatic province in the extensional evolution of the northeastern Basin and Range. The lavas of the JSVS imply the addition of basalt, related to the SRP hotspot, to the crust beneath the Raft River Basin that provided a heat source for crustal melting and weakening of the deep crust; this led to a vertical component of crustal fl ow and doming during extension, after the eruption of the 9.5-8.2 Ma JSVS rhyolites. This younger than 8.2 Ma component of vertical motion during faulting of the Miocene stratifi ed sequence of the Raft River Basin and the rotation of the Albion fault to shallower angles collectively resulted in the subhorizontal detachment structure imaged seismically beneath the Raft River Basin.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1681-1703
Number of pages23
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2013


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