Volcanic Stratigraphy of the Quaternary Rhyolite Plateau in Yellowstone National Park

Professional Paper 729-B
By:  and 



The volcanic sequence of the Quaternary Yellowstone plateau consists of rhyolites and basalts representing three volcanic cycles. The major events of each cycle were eruption of a voluminous ash-flow sheet and formation of a large collapse caldera. Lesser events of each cycle were eruption of precaldera and postcaldera rhyolitic lava flows and marginal basaltic lavas. The three major ash-flow sheets are named and designated in this report as formations within the Yellowstone Group. The lavas are assigned to newly named formations organized around the three ash-flow sheets of the Yellowstone Group to represent the volcanic cycles. Rocks of the first volcanic cycle comprise the precaldera Junction Butte Basalt and rhyolite of Broad Creek; the Huckleberry Ridge Tuff of the Yellowstone Group; and the postcaldera Lewis Canyon Rhyolite and basalt of The Narrows. Rocks of the second volcanic cycle do not crop out within Yellowstone National Park, and only the major unit, the Mesa Falls Tuff of the Yellowstone Group, is named here. The third volcanic cycle is represented by the precaldera Mount Jackson Rhyolite and Undine Falls Basalt; the Lava Creek Tuff of the Yellowstone Group; and the postcaldera Plateau Rhyolite and five post-Lava Creek basaltic sequences. Collapse to form the compound and resurgent Yellowstone caldera was related to eruption of the Lava Creek Tuff. The Plateau Rhyolite is divided into six members - the Mallard Lake, Upper Basin, Obsidian Creek, Central Plateau, Shoshone Lake Tuff, and Roaring Mountain Members; all but the Mallard Lake postdate resurgent doming of the caldera. The basalts are divided into the Swan Lake Flat Basalt, Falls River Basalt, basalt of Mariposa Lake, Madison River Basalt, and Osprey Basalt. Sediments are intercalated in the volcanic section below the Huckleberry Ridge and Mesa Falls Tuffs and within the Junction Butte Basalt, sediments and basalts of The Narrows, Undine Falls Basalt, Plateau Rhyolite, and Osprey Basalt.

Study Area

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Volcanic Stratigraphy of the Quaternary Rhyolite Plateau in Yellowstone National Park
Series title Professional Paper
Series number 729
Chapter B
DOI 10.3133/pp729B
Edition -
Year Published 1972
Language ENGLISH
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Contributing office(s) U.S. Geological Survey
Description 17 p.
Larger Work Type Report
Larger Work Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Larger Work Title Geology of Yellowstone National Park
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