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Taking apart a ‘super’ eruption: the Kneeling Nun Tuff, New Mexico

Applicant Bachmann Olivier
Number 155923
Funding scheme Project funding (Div. I-III)
Research institution Institut für Geochemie und Petrologie ETH Zürich
Institution of higher education ETH Zurich - ETHZ
Main discipline Geochemistry
Start/End 01.11.2014 - 31.10.2018
Approved amount 272'596.00
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Keywords (1)

caldera, silicic magma, ignimbrite, timescales,

Lay Summary (French)

Lead
Les grandes éruptions volcaniques explosives (“supervolcans”) sont des évènements rares (~ 1 tous les 10’000-50'000 ans), mais extrêmement dévastateurs, avec des conséquence globales pour le climat; ils sont considérés comme les processus naturels les plus destructeurs de notre planète. Les quantités de magmas émises à la surface lors de ces éruptions sont de l’ordre de 100-5000 km3, déclenchant l’effondrement de l’appareil volcanique sur plusieurs centaines de km2 en quelques jours. Par contre, les temps de mise en place des magmas explosifs dans les réservoirs magmatiques de la croûte supérieure (5 à 10 km de profondeur) sont très controversés.
Lay summary

Notre principal objectif est de contribuer à une meilleure compréhension des temps de mise en place des magmas explosifs dans la croûte terrestre, et de mieux discerner les processus dynamiques jouant un rôle important dans les réservoirs qui les contiennent. Plus précisément, nous souhaitons étudier les dépôts de l’une des plus grandes éruptions connues à l’heure actuelle, le Kneeling Nun Tuff (Nouveau Mexique, USA), mis en place y il y a environ 35 millions d’années, pour y (i) établir une chronologie précise des évènements en utilisant des échantillons ramenés du terrain, et (ii) produire une base de données géochimique et pétrologique permettant d’interpréter les conditions de formation des magmas émis lors de l’éruption. 

Notre travail générera des informations inédites et essentielles quant aux sources, fréquence, et risques associés à ces supervolcans. Ces informations géochimiques et géochronologiques concernant le Kneeling Nun Tuff pourront être comparées à d’autres grandes éruptions volcaniques et permettront de mieux comprendre les processus liés à ces phénomènes uniques de notre planète. 

 

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 26.09.2014

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Name Institute

Publications

Publication
Post-eruptive mobility of lithium in volcanic rocks
Ellis B. S., Szymanowski D., Magna T., Neukampf J., Dohmen R., Bachmann O., Ulmer P., Guillong M. (2018), Post-eruptive mobility of lithium in volcanic rocks, in Nature Communications, 9(1), 3228-3228.
Lateral magma propagation during the emplacement of La Gloria Pluton, central Chile
Gutiérrez F., Payacán I., Szymanowski D., Guillong M., Bachmann O., Parada M.A. (2018), Lateral magma propagation during the emplacement of La Gloria Pluton, central Chile, in Geology.
Isotope-dilution anchoring of zircon reference materials for accurate Ti-in-zircon thermometry
Szymanowski Dawid, Fehr Manuela A., Guillong Marcel, Coble Matthew A., Wotzlaw Jörn-Frederik, Nasdala Lutz, Ellis Ben S., Bachmann Olivier, Schönbächler Maria (2018), Isotope-dilution anchoring of zircon reference materials for accurate Ti-in-zircon thermometry, in Chemical Geology, 481, 146-154.
Protracted near-solidus storage and pre-eruptive rejuvenation of large magma reservoirs
Szymanowski Dawid, Wotzlaw Jörn-Frederik, Ellis Ben S., Bachmann Olivier, Guillong Marcel, von Quadt Albrecht (2017), Protracted near-solidus storage and pre-eruptive rejuvenation of large magma reservoirs, in Nature Geoscience, 10(10), 777-782.
Split-grain 40 Ar/ 39 Ar dating: Integrating temporal and geochemical data from crystal cargoes
Ellis B.S., Mark D.F., Troch J., Bachmann O., Guillong M., Kent A.J.R., von Quadt A. (2017), Split-grain 40 Ar/ 39 Ar dating: Integrating temporal and geochemical data from crystal cargoes, in Chemical Geology, 457, 15-23.
ID-TIMS U–Pb geochronology at the 0.1‰ level using 10 13 Ω resistors and simultaneous U and 18 O/ 16 O isotope ratio determination for accurate UO 2 interference correction
Wotzlaw Jörn-Frederik, Buret Yannick, Large Simon J. E., Szymanowski Dawid, von Quadt Albrecht (2017), ID-TIMS U–Pb geochronology at the 0.1‰ level using 10 13 Ω resistors and simultaneous U and 18 O/ 16 O isotope ratio determination for accurate UO 2 interference correction, in Journal of Analytical Atomic Spectrometry, 32(3), 579-586.
Geochronological and isotopic records of crustal storage and assimilation in the Wolverine Creek–Conant Creek system, Heise eruptive centre, Snake River Plain
Szymanowski D., Ellis B. S., Wotzlaw J. F., Buret Y., von Quadt A., Peytcheva I., Bindeman I. N., Bachmann O. (2016), Geochronological and isotopic records of crustal storage and assimilation in the Wolverine Creek–Conant Creek system, Heise eruptive centre, Snake River Plain, in Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology, 171(12), 106-106.
Geochronological and isotopic records of crustal storage and assimilation in the Wolverine Creek–Conant Creek system, Heise eruptive centre, Snake River Plain
Szymanowski D., Ellis B. S., Wotzlaw J. F., Buret Y., von Quadt A., Peytcheva I., Bindeman I. N., Bachmann O. (2016), Geochronological and isotopic records of crustal storage and assimilation in the Wolverine Creek–Conant Creek system, Heise eruptive centre, Snake River Plain, in Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology, 171(12), 106-106.
Remelting of cumulates as a process for producing chemical zoning in silicic tuffs: A comparison of cool, wet and hot, dry rhyolitic magma systems
Wolff J.A., Ellis B.S., Ramos F.C., Starkel W.A., Boroughs S., Olin P.H., Bachmann O. (2015), Remelting of cumulates as a process for producing chemical zoning in silicic tuffs: A comparison of cool, wet and hot, dry rhyolitic magma systems, in Lithos, 236-237, 275-286.
Groundmass crystallisation and cooling rates of lava-like ignimbrites: the Grey’s Landing ignimbrite, southern Idaho, USA
Ellis B. S., Cordonnier B., Rowe M. C., Szymanowski D., Bachmann O., Andrews G. D. M. (2015), Groundmass crystallisation and cooling rates of lava-like ignimbrites: the Grey’s Landing ignimbrite, southern Idaho, USA, in Bulletin of Volcanology, 77(10), 87-87.

Collaboration

Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
Dr. Darren Mark Great Britain and Northern Ireland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
Prof. Maria Schoenbaechler/ ETHZ Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
Albrecht von Quadt/ETHZ Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
John Wolff / Washington State University United States of America (North America)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication

Scientific events



Self-organised

Title Date Place
Journée Magmatique 2018 26.01.2018 ETH Zurich, Switzerland

Awards

Title Year
Joanne Simpson Award and AGU fellow 2018
MSA Distinguished Lecturer 2016

Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
178928 Dynamics of magma reservoirs in the earth’s crust; focusing on the role of volatile elements 01.04.2018 Project funding (Div. I-III)
165501 Towards a quantitative understanding of caldera-forming events 01.04.2016 Project funding (Div. I-III)
146268 Towards a quantitative understanding of caldera-forming events 01.04.2013 Project funding (Div. I-III)

Abstract

This proposal seeks support for a PhD studentship to combine detailed fieldwork with (1) high-precision geochronology, and (2) detailed petrology and geochemistry, to investigate the magmatic and eruptive history of the Kneeling Nun Tuff, New Mexico, USA. The Kneeling Nun Tuff is considered to be the deposit of one of the ten largest explosive eruptions on Earth, yet almost nothing is known about it in terms of petrology, geochemistry, and geochronology. Based on field observations from the 1960s and 1970s that described multiple flow units, in some cases separated by sandstones, we hypothesise that the Kneeling Nun Tuff is actually composed of a number of closely-spaced explosive events. We propose to test this hypothesis by combining detailed fieldwork (including new logging and mapping of the deposits) with high-precision 40Ar/39Ar and U-Pb zircon (using both ID-TIMS and LA-ICPMS), associated with micro-analytical geochemistry and petrology. By coupling these different techniques together, we will be able to shed light on the timescales of magma generation and eruption in this large rhyolitic system, which belongs to the famous mid-tertiary ignimbrite “flare-up” of the Southwestern USA. An additional goal of the detailed textural, geochemical, and isotopic characterisation of the Kneeling Nun Tuff is that it will allow a better understanding of the key processes involved in the generation of voluminous silicic magmas. In particular, the unit shows large variations in crystallinity within flow units, and we want to test whether the crystal-rich portions of the Kneeling Nun Tuff are formed by remobilising cumulate mush within the upper crustal magma reservoir. Such information will help constraining further the state, geometry and size of these large magma reservoirs, a key aspect in better understanding Earth’s magmatism. This project can be accomplished mostly with instruments and expertise present at ETHZ; we have assembled a team that brings together much of the necessary tools and knowledge to reach a successful outcome. However, we did secure the participation of one internal (ETHZ) and two international collaborators to assist with key aspects of this project.
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