High-temperature emplacement of the Cerro Galan and Toconquis Group ignimbrites (Puna plateau, NW Argentina) determined by TRM analyses

Chiara Lesti, Massimiliano Porreca, Guido Giordano, Massimo Mattei, Raymond Cas, Heather Wright, Christopher Folkes, Jose Viramonte

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    Estimates of pyroclastic flow emplacement temperatures in the Cerro Galan ignimbrite and Toconquis Group ignimbrites were determined using thermal remanent magnetization of lithic clasts embedded within the deposits. These ignimbrites belong to the Cerro Galan volcanic system, one of the largest calderas in the world, in the Puna plateau, NW Argentina. Temperature estimates for the 2.08-Ma Cerro Galan ignimbrite are retrieved from 40 sites in 14 localities (176 measured clasts), distributed at different distances from the caldera and different stratigraphic heights. Additionally, temperature estimates were obtained from 27 sample sites (125 measured clasts) from seven ignimbrite units forming the older Toconquis Group (5.60-4.51 Ma), mainly outcropping along a type section at Rio Las Pitas, Vega Real Grande. The paleomagnetic data obtained by progressive thermal demagnetization show that the clasts of the Cerro Galan ignimbrite have one single magnetic component, oriented close to the expected geomagnetic field at the time of emplacement. Results show therefore that most of the clasts acquired a new magnetization oriented parallel to the magnetic field at the moment of the ignimbrite deposition, suggesting that the clasts were heated up to or above the highest blocking temperature (T (b)) of the magnetic minerals (T (b) = 580A degrees C for magnetite; T (b) = 600-630A degrees C for hematite). We obtained similar emplacement temperature estimations for six out of the seven volcanic units belonging to the Toconquis Group, with the exception of one unit (Lower Merihuaca), where we found two distinct magnetic components. The estimation of emplacement temperatures in this latter case is constrained at 580-610A degrees C, which are lower than the other ignimbrites. These estimations are also in agreement with the lowest pre-eruptive magma temperatures calculated for the same unit (i.e., 790A degrees C; hornblende-plagioclase thermometer; Folkes et al. 2011b). We conclude that the Cerro Galan ignimbrite and Toconquis Group ignimbrites were emplaced at temperatures equal to or higher than 620A degrees C, except for Lower Merihuaca unit emplaced at lower temperatures. The homogeneity of high temperatures from proximal to distal facies in the Cerro Galan ignimbrite provides constraints for the emplacement model, marked by a relatively low eruption column, low levels of turbulence, air entrainment, surface-water interaction, and a high level of topographic confinement, all ensuring minimal heat loss.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1535 - 1565
    Number of pages31
    JournalBulletin of Volcanology
    Issue number10
    Publication statusPublished - 2011

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