Abstract

Basin to mid-ramp cyclic facies of the Tithonian Vaca Muerta Formation are exposed in the Loncoche Creek section of the Neuquén Basin, Mendoza province, Argentina. This unit is characterized by a decimeter-scale rhythmic alternation of marls, shales and limestones and extends from the lower Tithonian to the upper Berriasian. Cyclostratigraphic studies based on a detailed facies analysis allowed the identification of cyclic patterns with frequencies within the Milankovitch band. According to biostratigraphic data, the dominant cycle in the studied section has a period of 20 k.y., which correlates with the Earth's axis precession element. Spectral analysis based on a series of compacted and decompacted cycle thickness identified a subordinate frequency of about 90 to 120 k.y., which we interpret as the modulation of the precessional cycle caused by the Earth's orbital eccentricity. The strength of the precession signal, together with the absence of a well-defined cyclicity attributable to the obliquity orbital cycle (i.e., ∼40 k.y.), is in agreement with previous data from the Northern Hemisphere.

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