Complex layering of the Orange Mountain Basalt: New Jersey, USA

  • John H. Puffer
  • Karin A. Block
  • Jeffrey C. Steiner
  • Chris Laskowich
Research Article


The Orange Mountain Basalt of New Jersey is a Mesozoic formation consisting of three units: a single lower inflated sheet lobe about 70 m thick (OMB1), a middle pillow basalt about 10 to 20 m thick (OMB2), and an upper compound pahoehoe flow about 20 to 40 m thick (OMB3). The Orange Mountain Basalt is part of the Central Atlantic Magmatic Province. Quarry and road-cut exposures of OMB1 near Paterson, New Jersey, display some unusual layering that is the focus of this study. OMB1 exposures displays the typical upper crust, core, and basal crust layers of sheet lobes but throughout the Patterson area also display distinct light gray layers of microvesicular basalt mineralized with albite directly over the basal crust and under the upper crust. The lower microvesicular layer is associated with mega-vesicular diapirs. We propose that the upper and lower microvesicular layers were composed of viscous crust that was suddenly quenched before it could devolatilize immediately before the solidification of the core. During initial cooling, the bottom of the basal layer was mineralized with high concentrations of calcite and albite during a high-temperature hydrothermal event. Subsequent albitization, as well as zeolite, prehnite, and calcite precipitation events, occurred during burial and circulation of basin brine heated by recurring Palisades magmatism below the Orange Mountain Basalt. Some of the events experienced by the Orange Mountain Basalt are unusual and place constraints on the fluid dynamics of thick flood basalt flows in general. The late penetration of vesicular diapirs through the entire thickness of the flow interior constrains its viscosity and solidification history.


Geothermal system Flood basalt Diapirs Microvesicular 



We acknowledge the useful critical reviews of Andrea Marzoli, Katherine Cashman, and an anonymous reviewer. We thank Andrew Harris for his editorial comments which helped to improve this manuscript. A significant portion of the data presented here was conceived by our co-author Jeff Steiner, who passed away during the writing of this manuscript. We dedicate this work to him.

Supplementary material

445_2018_1231_MOESM1_ESM.xlsx (49 kb)
Table S1 (XLSX 49 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • John H. Puffer
    • 1
  • Karin A. Block
    • 2
  • Jeffrey C. Steiner
    • 2
  • Chris Laskowich
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Earth & Environmental ScienceRutgers UniversityNewarkUSA
  2. 2.Department of Earth and Atmospheric SciencesThe City College of New YorkNew YorkUSA
  3. 3.GeologistWest PatersonUSA

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