Open-system evolution of a crustal-scale magma column, klamath mountains, california

Calvin G. Barnes, Nolwenn Coint, Melanie A. Barnes, Kevin R. Chamberlain, John M. Cottle, O. Tapani Ramo, Ariel Strickland, John W. Valley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study addresses the question of how and where arc magmas obtain their chemical and isotopic characteristics. The Wooley Creek batholith and Slinkard pluton are a tilted, mid-to upper-crustal part of a vertically extensive, late-Jurassic, arc-related magmatic system in the Klamath Mountains, northern California. The main stage of the system is divided into an older lower zone (c. 159 Ma) emplaced as multiple sheet-like bodies, a younger upper zone (c. 158 156 Ma), which is gradationally zoned upward from mafic tonalite to granite, and a complex central zone, which represents the transition between the lower and upper zones. Xenoliths are common and locally abundant in the lower and central zones and preserve a ghost stratigraphy of the three host terranes. Bulk-rock Nd isotope data along with ages and Hf and oxygen isotope data on zircons were used to assess the location and timing of differentiation and assimilation. Xenoliths display a wide range of eNd (wholerock) and eHf (zircon), ranges that correlate with rocks in the host terranes. Among individual pluton samples, zircon Hf and oxygen isotope data display ranges too large to represent uniform magma compositions, and very few data are consistent with uncontaminated mantle-derived magma. In addition, zoning of Zr and Hf in augite and hornblende indicates that zircon crystallized at temperatures near or below 800 _C; these temperatures are lower than emplacement temperatures. Therefore, the diversity of zircon isotope compositions reflects in situ crystallization from heterogeneous magmas. On the basis of these and published data, the system is interpreted to reflect initial MASH-zone differentiation, which resulted in elevated d18O and lowered eHf in the magmas prior to zircon crystallization. Further differentiation, and particularly assimilation fractional crystallization, occurred at the level of emplacement on a piecemeal (local) basis as individual magma batches interacted with partial melts from host-rock xenoliths. This piecemeal assimilation was accompanied by zircon crystallization, resulting in the heterogeneous isotopic signatures. Magmatism ended with late-stage emplacement of isotopically evolved granitic magmas (c. 156 Ma) whose compositions primarily reflect reworking of the deep-crustal MASH environment.

Original languageEnglish
Article number065
JournalJournal of Petrology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2021


  • Assimilation
  • Geochronology
  • Zircon
  • crustal magma column


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