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Abstract

The Mesozoic of Nuevo Leon is composed of more than 10,000 m of sedimentary rocks displaying abrupt physical changes and containing abundant planktonic foraminifera, allowing precise chronostrati-graphic determinations. This succession has been deposited in the western extension of the ancestral Gulf of Mexico (Mexican Sea). Its paleogeographic setting corresponds to the oblique subduction of the Kula-Far-allon plate under the North American plate. Active oblique subduction of the western margin of Mexico has resulted in the structural features of the Mesozoic sedimentary cover, forming a folded belt made of an intricate array of mountain ranges corresponding to the Nuevo Leones Cordillera characterized by: (1) kilomet-ric-scale anticlinal ridges and narrow synclinal valleys of the Jurassic-Cretaceous sedimentary cover commonly displaying box (fan-shaped) folds; (2) a well-developed pattern of en echelon anticlinal folds; (3) juxtaposition of tectonostratigraphic domains; (4) asymmetrical, overturned, doubly plunging anticlines evolving into faulted anticlines; (5) disrupted, long and sinuous fold trends; (6) lack of large horizontal displacement due to overthrusting; (7) folding being predominant over faulting; (8) local thrusting with opposite vergence; and (9) lack of volcanism and regional metamorphism. Those features are the result of transpressional tectonics since the mid-Jurassic including a greater basement involvement in the tectonic deformation.

Analysis of the megastructures exposed in the region using SIR-A and LANDSAT imagery of northeast Mexico revealed that the megastructures of the Mesozoic Cordillera between parallels 22°00' and 26°00' and meridians 99° 00’ and 101°00’ can be referred to deformation of the thin sedimentary cover above transcurrent faults following the morphological pattern of the lab experiment by Odonne and Vialon. The folding styles of the Nuevo Leones Cordillera were analyzed in light of tectonic transpression and wrench-fault tectonics driven by transcurrent faults in the basement as established by Harland, Lowell, and Beck, resulting in the recognition of subsurface faults in the basement. We associate the geometric arrangement of the megastructural trends to sense of displacement of strike-slip (transcurrent) faults and fold patterns as demonstrated by Odonne and Vialon (1983) and the well-known strike-slip tectonic setting of New Zealand as described by Bishop (1967).

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