Large-scale Alkalic Magmatism Associated with the Buckhorn Caldera, Trans-Pecos Texas, USA: Comparison with Pantelleria, Italy.

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John C. White ORCID iD icon


Physics, Geosciences, and Astronomy

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Three major rhyolite systems in the northeastern Davis and adjacent Barrilla Mountains include lava units that bracketed a large pantelleritic ignimbrite (Gomez Tuff) in rapid eruptions spanning 300,000 years. Extensive silicic lavas formed the shields of the Star Mountain Formation (37.2 Ma-K/Ar; 36.84 Ma 39Ar/40Ar), and the Adobe Canyon Formation (37.1 Ma-K/Ar; 36.51-39Ar/40Ar). The Gomez Tuff (36.6 Ma-K/Ar; 36.74-39Ar/40Ar) blanketed a large region around the 18×24 km diameter Buckhorn caldera, within which it ponded, forming sections up to 500 m thick. Gomez eruption was preceded by pantelleritic rhyolite domes (36.87, 36.91 Ma-39Ar/40Ar), some of which blocked movement of Star Mountain lava flows. Following collapse, the Buckhorn caldera was filled by trachyte lava. Adobe Canyon rhyolite lavas then covered much of the region. Star Mountain Formation (~220 km3) is composed of multiple flows ranging from quartz trachyte to mildly peralkalic rhyolite; three major types form a total of at least six major flows in the northeastern Davis

Mountains. Adobe Canyon Formation (~125 km3) contains fewer flows, some up to 180 m thick, of chemically homogenous, mildly peralkalic comendite, extending up to 40 km. Gomez Tuff (~220 km3) may represent the largest known pantellerite. It is typically less than 100 m thick in extra-caldera sections, where it shows a pyroclastic base and top, although interiors are commonly rheomorphic, containing flow banding and ramp structures. Most sections contain one cooling unit; two sections contain a smaller, upper cooling unit. Chemically, the tuff is fairly homogeneous, but is more evolved than early pantelleritic domes. Overall, although Davis Mountains silicic units were generated through open system processes, the pantellerites appear to have evolved by processes dominated by extensive fractional crystallization from parental trachytes similar to that erupted in pre- and post-caldera lavas. Comparison with the Pantelleria volcano suggests that the most likely parental magma for the Buckhorn series is transitional basalt, similar to that erupted in minor, younger Basin and Range volcanism after about 24 Ma. Roughly contemporaneous mafic lavas associated with the Buckhorn caldera appear to have assimilated or mixed with crustal melts, and, generally, may not be regarded as mafic precursors of the Buckhorn silicic rocks, They thus form a false Daly Gap as opposed to the true basalt/trachyte Daly gap of Pantelleria.

Journal Title

Bulletin of Volcanology