Volcanic rocks of the McDermitt Caldera, Nevada-Oregon

Open-File Report 76-753



The McDermitt caldera, a major Miocene eruptive center is locatedin the northernmost Great Basin directly west of McDermitt, Nev. The alkali rhyolite of Jordan Meadow was erupted from the caldera and covered an area of about 60,000 sq km; the volume of rhyolite is about 960 cubic km.

Paleozoic and Mesozoic sedimentary rocks and Mesozoic granodiorite form the pre-Tertiary Basement in this area. Overlying these is a series of volcanic rocks, probably all of Miocene age. The lowest is a dacite welded tuff, a reddish-brown rock featuring abundant phenocrysts of plagioclase, hornblende, and biotite; next is a heterogeneous unit consisting of mocks ranging from basalt to dacite.

Overlying these is the basalt and andesite of Orevada View, over 700 m thick and consisting of a basal unit of cinder agglutinate overlain by basalt and andesite, much of which contains conspicuous large plagioclase phenocrysts.

Near Disaster Peak and Orevada View, the basalt and andesite are overlain by additional units of silicic volcanic rocks. The lower alkali rhyolite welded tuff contains abundant phenocrysts of alkali feldspar and has a vitric phase with obvious pumice and shard texture. The rhyolite of Little Peak consists of a wide variety of banded flows or welded ruffs and breccias, mostly containing abundant alkali feldspar phenocrysts. It extends south from Disaster Peak and apparently underlies the alkali rhyolite of Jordan Meadow. The quartz latite of Sage Creek lies north of Disaster Peak and consists mostly of finely mottled quartz latite with sparse minute plagioclase phenocrysts.

Volcanic rock units in the east part of the area near the Cordero mine include trachyandesite, quartz labile of McConnell Canyon, and rhyolite of McCormick Ranch. The trachyandesite is dark gray and contains less than 1 percent microphenocrysts plagioclase. It is the lowest unit exposed and may correlate with part of the basalt and andesite of Orevada View. The quartz latite of McConnell Canyon is olive gray and contains about 8 percent plagioclase phenocrysts. It has an upper phase of black vitrophyre which directly underlies The alkali rhyolite of Jordan Meadow. The rhyolite of McCormick Ranch is present farther north and consists of pinkish rhyolite with small amounts of phenocrysts of alkali feldspar, quartz, and plagioclase.

The alkali rhyolite of Jordan Meadow consists of interlayered aphyric, sparsely porphyritic, and abundantly porphyritic alkali rhyolites whose colors are predominantly light gray, greenish gray, and brown, respectively. Phenocrysts are alkali feldspar (to 15 percent) locally with quartz. Sections inside the caldera are as much as 360 m thick and consist of intimately interlayered gray, green, and brown alkali rhyolites commonly flow folded. Outside the caldera sections are equally thick in the south and southwest, but thinner to the north; in these places units of similar lithology are persistent for many kilometers, and flow folding is rare.

A basal green porphyritic unit north of the caldera contains definite shard texture, but elsewhere this feature is rare. Nevertheless, the great lateral extent and relative thinness of the alkali rhyolite of Jordan Meadow suggests that it is welded ash-flow tuff.

Overlying the alkali rhyolite of Jordan Meadow within the McDermitt caldera are four units of lavas. The rhyolite of Hoppin Peaks contains light-brownish-gray rhyolite and black vitophyre, all with sparse phenocrysts of alkali feldspar, quartz, and plagioclase. The rhyolite of McDermitt Creek is greenish or brownish gray and contains abundant phenocrysts of plagioclase. It .is in part structureless and in part flow banded. Alkali rhyolite of Washburn Creek is light gray and contains 0-5 percent phenocrysts alkali feldspar. Quartz labile of Black Mountain forms four isolated remnants of volcanoes in the south part of the caldera. It is brown where well crystallized and black where vitric and contains 5-15 percent plagioclase phenocrysts. 

A unit of tuffaceous sedimentary rocks in part fills the caldera. A single occurrence of andesite is interbedded. 

Study Area

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Volcanic rocks of the McDermitt Caldera, Nevada-Oregon
Series title Open-File Report
Series number 76-753
DOI 10.3133/ofr76753
Year Published 1976
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Description Report: v, 80 p.; 2 Plates: 15.01 × 11.06 inches and 11.12 × 14.10 inches
Country United States
State Nevada, Oregon
Other Geospatial McDermitt Caldera
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