Post-supereruption magmatic reconstruction of Taupo volcano (New Zealand), as reflected in zircon ages and trace elements

S. J. Barker*, C. J.N. Wilson, E. G.C. Smith, B. L.A. Charlier, J. L. Wooden, J. Hiess, T. R. Ireland

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    49 Citations (Scopus)


    New zircon U-Th model-age and trace element datasets are presented fromTaupo volcano (New Zealand), which are used to investigate the timescales and broad-scale magmatic processes involving zircon crystallization after the caldera-forming 25·4 ka Oruanui supereruption. Detailed 14C-based chronologies and controls on vent locations allow the timing and location of post-caldera eruptions to be spatially and temporally constrained to an extent not possible for any other supervolcano. After ∼5 kyr of post-Oruanui quiescence, Taupo erupted three dacitic units, followed by another ∼5 kyr break, and then a sequence of rhyolitic units in three subgroups (SG1-SG3) from 12 ka onwards. Despite overlapping vent sites and crustal source domains between the Oruanui and post-Oruanui eruptions, U-Th zircon model ages inTaupo SG1 rhyolites (erupted from 12 to 10 ka) indicate only minor inheritance of crystals from the Oruanui magma source. Post-Oruanui model-age spectra are instead typically centred close to eruption ages with subordinate older pre-300 ka equiline grains in some units. U-Pb dating of these older grains shows that both 300-450 ka plutonic-derived and pre- 100 Ma greywacke basement-derived zircons are present. The former largely coincide in age with zircons from the 350 ka Whakamaru eruption products, and are dominant over greywacke in young units that were vented within the outline of the Whakamaru caldera. Despite multiple ages and vent sites, trace element compositions are broadly similar in zircons, regardless of their ages. However, a small subset of zircons analysed from SG1 rhyolite (Units B and C) have notably high concentrations of U, Th, P, Y +(REE)3+ and Nb but with only minor variations in Hf andTi. SG2 zircons typically have higher Sc contents, reflecting large-scale changes in melt chemistry and crystallizing mineral phases with time.The age spectra indicate that most Oruanui zircons were removed by thermally induced dissolution immediately following the supereruption. U-Th ages from single post-Oruanui eruptions show consistent inheritance of post-Oruanui grains with model ages that centre between the temporally separated but geographically overlapping eruption groups, generating model-age modes. Within the statistical limitations of the isotopic measurements, we interpret these repeated modes to be significant, resulting from incorporation of crystal populations from cyclic post-Oruanui periods of magmatic cooling and crystallization, acting within a crustal protolith chemically independent of that which was dominant in the Oruanui system.These periods of cooling and crystallization alternate with times of rejuvenation and eruption, sometimes demonstrably accompanying syn-eruptive regional rifting and mafic magma injection. Not only were the processes that developed the supersized Oruanui magma body rapid, but this huge magma system was effectively reset and rebuilt on a comparably short timescale.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1511-1533
    Number of pages23
    JournalJournal of Petrology
    Issue number8
    Publication statusPublished - Aug 2014


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