New 40Ar/39Ar dates from the Jemez Mountain volcanic field (JMVF) reveal formerly unrecognized shifts in the loci of pre-caldera volcanic centers across the northern Jemez Mountains; these shifts are interpreted to coincide with episodes of Rio Grande rift faulting. Early activity in the field includes two eruptive pulses: 10.8–9.2 Ma basaltic to dacitic volcanism on Lobato Mesa in the northeastern JMVF and 12–9 Ma mafic to silicic volcanism in the southwestern JMVF. While 9–7 Ma eruptions persisted in the southern JMVF, a new eruptive center developed on the La Grulla Plateau in the northwestern JMVF (8.7–7.2 Ma), corresponding with a period of rift widening caused by reactivation of Laramide faults in this area. The older 8.7–7.8 Ma mafic lavas emitted from Encino Point and the younger 7.7–7.2 Ma trachyandesite and dacite erupted on the La Grulla Plateau are assigned to a new unit called the La Grulla Formation. The chemical composition of a 640 m stack of lava flows exposed in the northern margin of the Valles caldera changes from dacite to andesite, then back to dacite upsection, becoming slightly more alkalic upward. The shift to more alkalic compositions occurs across a sedimentary break, marking a subtle change in magma source for the older Paliza Canyon Formation and the younger La Grulla Formation lavas. New age constraints from a rhyolite intrusion in the southern JMVF and pumiceous rhyolite deposits in the northern JMVF suggest an episode of localized, 7.6–7.8 Ma rhyolitic volcanism that occurred in the central part of the JMVF between 12–8 Ma Canovas Canyon Rhyolite and 7–6 Ma peak Bearhead Rhyolite volcanism. Younger Bearhead Rhyolite intrusions (7.1–6.5 Ma) are more widespread than previously documented, extending into the northeastern JMVF. Tschicoma Formation dacite erupted at 5 Ma in the Sierra de los Valles and then erupted throughout the northeastern JMVF 5–2 Ma. The more refined geochronology of the JMVF indicates that pre-caldera volcanic centers were characterized by geographically and chemically distinct, relatively short-lived, episodes of activity. Volcanism generally migrated eastward through time in the southern JMVF, but the pattern in the northern JMVF had a more complex east (10–9 Ma) to west (9–7 Ma) to east (5–2 Ma) pattern that reflects the timing of motion on faults. The new ages, coupled with detailed mapping of both volcanic rocks and the Santa Fe Group, document significant pulses of faulting, erosion, and deposition during middle Miocene time and during late Miocene time across the Cañones fault zone in the northern JMVF.
- Received 1 January 2013.
- Revision received 5 March 2013.
- Accepted 11 March 2013.
- © 2013 Geological Society of America