Publication Details

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Title: Zircon xenocryst resorption and magmatic regrowth at El Chichón Volcano, Chiapas, Mexico
Authors: B. Pack, A. K. Schmitt, J. Roberge, F. G. Tenorio, and B. N. Damiata
Publication: Jour. Volcanol. Geoth. Res., v. 311, p. 170‐182.
Publish Date: February 2016
DOI: 10.1016/j.jvolgeores.2016.01.011
PDF: pdf
BibTEX Citation: Pack:2016.bib


El Chichón volcano is the only active volcano located within the Chiapanecan Volcanic Arc in southern Mexico, which lies between the Trans‐Mexican Volcanic Belt and the Central American Volcanic Arc. Previous studies have shown that  12 eruptions have occurred at El Chichón within the last 8000 years, forming a complex of lava domes with a central crater and surrounding pyroclastic deposits. Here, we report the discovery of zircon in Holocene El Chichón rocks, which were analyzed by high spatial resolution imaging (color cathodoluminescence CCL) and isotopic (secondary ionization mass spectrometry SIMS) methods to resolve core and rim crystallization ages. Pumice samples from five proximal pyroclastic flow and fall‐out deposit were collected based on published stratigraphy. Two of the samples were further (re‐)classified by new 14C dates. In addition, we sampled two lavas from the 1982 eruption and from remnants of the older Somma lava complex. Zircon crystals were dated using 230Th/238U disequilibrium(U‐Th) and U‐Pb geochronology. U‐Th zircon ages fall between near eruption ages and ca. 84 ka, with overlapping ages in all samples. By contrast, zircon core U‐Pb ages range between ca. 290Ma and 1.9 Ga. These ages are consistent with xenocrystic origins and their heterogeneity indicates derivation from clastic country rocks. Strong age contrasts between inherited xenocrystic and young magmatic domains in individual zircon crystals are evidence for arrested assimilation of crustal rocks where initially zircon‐undersaturated magmas cooled rapidly to form a crystal mush or subsolidus amalgamate as a crustally contaminated boundary layer. This layer contributed zircon crystals to eruptible magma during episodic recharge events followed by partial melt extraction, mixing and homogenization. Zircon overgrowths are significantly older than major minerals whose U series ages and sharp zonation boundaries suggest crystallization only within a few ka before eruption. This implies that zircon can detect magmatic longevity which is obscured in the major mineral record.