Studies by the U.S. Geological Survey in Alaska, 2006

U.S. Geological Survey
Professional Paper 1739-A

Blue Mountain and The Gas Rocks: Rear-Arc Dome Clusters on the Alaska Peninsula

By Wes Hildreth, Judy Fierstein, and Andrew T. Calvert


The Gas Rocks on Becharof Lake (from Figure 10)


Behind the single-file chain of stratovolcanoes on the Alaska Peninsula, independent rear-arc vents for mafic magmas are uncommon, and for silicic magmas rarer still. We report here the characteristics, compositions, and ages of two andesite-dacite dome clusters and of several nearby basaltic units, all near Becharof Lake and 15 to 20 km behind the volcanic front. Blue Mountain consists of 13 domes (58-68 weight percent SiO2) and The Gas Rocks of three domes (62-64.5 weight percent SiO2) and a mafic cone (52 weight percent SiO2). All 16 domes are amphibole-biotite-plagioclase felsite, and nearly all are phenocryst rich and quartz bearing. Although the two dome clusters are lithologically and chemically similar and only 25 km apart, they differ strikingly in age. The main central dome of Blue Mountain yields an 40Ar/39Ar age of 632±7 ka, and two of the Gas Rocks domes ages of 25.7±1.4 and 23.3±1.2 ka. Both clusters were severely eroded by glaciation; surviving volumes of Blue Mountain domes total ~1 km3, and of the Gas Rocks domes 0.035 km3. Three basaltic vents lie close to The Gas Rocks, another lies just south of Blue Mountain, and a fifth is near the north shore of Becharof Lake. A basaltic andesite vent 6 km southeast of The Gas Rocks appears to be a flank vent of the arc-front center Mount Peulik. The basalt of Ukinrek Maars has been called transitionally alkalic, but all the other basaltic rocks are subalkaline. CO2-rich gas emissions near the eponymous Gas Rocks domes are not related to the 25-ka dacite dome cluster but, rather, to intracrustal degassing of intrusive basalt, one batch of which erupted 3 km away in 1977. The felsic and mafic vents all lie along or near the Bruin Bay Fault where it intersects a broad transverse structural zone marked by topographic, volcanologic, and geophysical discontinuities.

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