Shoshonite is a basaltic rock, properly a potassic trachyandesite, composed of olivine, augite and plagioclase phenocrysts in a groundmass with calcic plagioclase and sanidine and some dark-colored volcanic glass. Shoshonite gives its name to the shoshonite series and grades into absarokite with the loss of plagioclase phenocrysts and into bannakite with an increase in sanidine. Shoshonite was named by Iddings in 1895 for the Shoshone River in Wyoming.
Textural and mineralogical features of potash-rich basaltic rocks of the absarokite-shoshonite-banakite series strongly suggest that most of the large crystals and aggregates are not true phenocrysts as previously thought but are xenocrysts and microxenoliths, suggesting a hybrid origin involving assimilation of gabbro by high-temperature syenitic magma.
- Near-saturated in silica;
- Low iron enrichment;
- High total alkalies (Na2O + K2O > 5%);
- High K2O/Na2O;
- Steep positive slope for K2O versus SiO2 at low SiO2;
- Enrichment in P, Rb, Sr, Ba, Pb, light rare earth elements;
- Low TiO2;
- High but variable Al2O3;
- High Fe2O3/FeO.
Tectonic settings and examples
Volcanic rocks of the absarokite-shoshonite-banakite series described from Yellowstone Park by Iddings and the similar ciminite-toscanite series described from western Italy by Washington are associated with leucite-bearing rocks, potassium-rich trachytes and andesitic rocks. Similar associations are described from several other regions including Indonesia and the East African Rift.
In the Eolian Arc in the southern Tyrrhenian Sea (between the Eurasian and African tectonic plates), volcanism has changed between calc-alkaline to high-K calc-alkaline to shoshonitic with the last one million years, possibly due to the progressive steepening of the Benioff zone, with is inclined at 50-60°. Late Cretaceous Puerto Rican volcanism is interpreted to have occurred in a similar tectonic setting.
In places, shoshonitic and high-K calc-alkaline magmatism is associated with world-class hydrothermal gold and copper-gold mineralization. Examples are: 1) Ladolam gold mine, Lihir Island, Papua New Guinea; 2) Bingham copper-gold mine, Utah; 3) Grasberg copper-gold mine, Indonesia; 4) Oyu Tolgoi copper-gold mine, Mongolia.
- Gest, D. E. and A. R. McBirney, Genetic relations of shoshonitic and absarokitic magmas, Absaroka Mountains, Wyoming, Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, Vol 6; issues 1-2, Sept 1979. pp 85-104
- Shoshonite: Webster's Online Dictionary
- Prostka, Harold J., Hybrid Origin of the Absarokite-Shoshonite-Banakite Series, Absaroka Volcanic Field, Wyoming, 1973 GSA Bulletin February, 1973 v. 84 no. 2 p. 697-702 abstract
- Morrison, Gregg, 1980, Characteristics and tectonic settings of shoshonite rock association, Lithos, 13, 97-108
- Muller D., Groves D.I. (2016) Potassic igneous rocks and associated gold-copper mineralization (4th ed.). Mineral Resource Reviews. Springer-Verlag Heidelberg, 311 pp
- Joplin, Germaine A., The shoshonite association: A review, Journal of the Geological Society of Australia, v. 15, #2, 1968, pp 275-294 DOI:10.1080/00167616808728699