Characterization of the rhyolite of Bodie Hills and 40Ar/39Ar intercalibration with Ar mineral standards

Robert J. Fleck, Andrew T. Calvert, Matthew A. Coble, Joseph L. Wooden, Kip Hodges, Leslie A. Hayden, M. C. van Soest, Edward A. du Bray, David A. John

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


The rhyolite of Bodie Hills (California) is characterized compositionally and the geochronology of selected phases is studied. Sanidine (BHs) from the rhyolite is well suited as a 40Ar/39Ar reference material with high K/Ca and radiogenic yield. Intercalibration with GA1550 biotite from the Dromedary igneous complex (New South Wales, Australia) yields an age of 9.7946 ± 0.0031 Ma for BHs relative to an age of 98.79 ± 0.54 Ma for GA1550 and a calibration factor (RBHs/GA1550) of 0.096719 ± 0.000032. BHs is also intercalibrated with sanidines of the Taylor Creek Rhyolite (TCs; RTCs/BHs of 2.90874 ± 0.00067), Fish Canyon Tuff (FCs; RFCs/BHs of 2.88339 ± 0.00088), and rhyolite of Alder Creek (ACs; RACs/BHs of 0.12028 ± 0.00024). These calibration factors yield ages of 28.344 ± 0.011 Ma, 28.099 ± 0.013 Ma, and 1.1809 ± 0.0024 Ma for TCs, FCs, and ACs, respectively, relative to GA1550. Full propagation of errors increases these uncertainties and that of BHs to ±0.9% of their ages. Calibration of BHs using the astronomically tuned age of FCs determined by Kuiper et al. (2008) yields an age of 9.8295 ± 0.0036 Ma. Stepwise heating of BHs reveals the same small, progressive increase in age across the age spectrum reported for FCs, ACs, and other potassium feldspars (e.g., Foland and Xu, 1990; Phillips et al., 2017). This increase is consistent with mass fractionation of argon during step heating and favors use of single-step fusion ages of all sanidines for monitor and calibration purposes. Zircons from the rhyolite of Bodie Hills are strongly zoned in U and Th, and U/Pb geochronologic analyses suggest multiple generations of zircon growth. The youngest ages indicate a crystallization age of 9.97 ± 0.08 Ma (2σ); arguably similar to the 40Ar/39Ar results when residence time is considered, but previous episodes of zircon growth began at least 400 ka prior to eruption. Precise (U - Th)/He thermochronology of these zircons is difficult because crystal-to-crystal variations in the magnitude and complexity of their U + Th zoning complicates accurate alpha ejection calculations. Replicate conventional (single-crystal) (U - Th)/He ages are more widely dispersed than predicted by analytical uncertainties, but laser ablation (U - Th)/He ages are more reproducible, with an inverse variance-weighted mean of 9.71 ± 0.58 Ma.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)282-302
Number of pages21
JournalChemical Geology
StatePublished - Oct 20 2019


  • Ar/Ar geochronology
  • Bodie Hills
  • Characterization
  • Intercalibration
  • Standards

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geology
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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