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Quaternary tephra from the Valles caldera in the volcanic field of the Jemez Mountains of New Mexico identified in western Canada

  • John A. Westgate (a1), Giday WoldeGabriel (a2), Henry C. Halls (a1), Colin J. Bray (a1), René W. Barendregt (a3), Nicholas J.G. Pearce (a4), Andrei M. Sarna-Wojcicki (a5), Michael P. Gorton (a1), Richard E. Kelley (a2) and Emily Schultz-Fellenz (a2)...


A fine-grained, up to 3-m-thick tephra bed in southwestern Saskatchewan, herein named Duncairn tephra (Dt), is derived from an early Pleistocene eruption in the Jemez Mountains volcanic field of New Mexico, requiring a trajectory of northward tephra dispersal of ~1500 km. An unusually low CaO content in its glass shards denies a source in the closer Yellowstone and Heise volcanic fields, whereas a Pleistocene tephra bed (LSMt) in the La Sal Mountains of Utah has a very similar glass chemistry to that of the Dt, supporting a more southerly source. Comprehensive characterization of these two distal tephra beds along with samples collected near the Valles caldera in New Mexico, including grain size, mineral assemblage, major- and trace-element composition of glass and minerals, paleomagnetism, and fission-track dating, justify this correlation. Two glass populations each exist in the Dt and LSMt. The proximal correlative of Dt1 is the plinian Tsankawi Pumice and co-ignimbritic ash of the first ignimbrite (Qbt1g) of the 1.24 Ma Tshirege Member of the Bandelier Tuff. The correlative of Dt2 and LSMt is the co-ignimbritic ash of Qbt2. Mixing of Dt1 and Dt2 probably occurred during northward transport in a jet stream.


Corresponding author

*Corresponding author at: Department of Earth Sciences, University of Toronto, 22 Russell Street, Toronto, Ontario M5S 3B1, Canada. E-mail address: (J.A. Westgate)


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