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In 1935, Krynine postulated that first-cycle arkose in the humid tropical setting of southern Mexico can be rapidly eroded with minimal chemical weathering and redeposited as second-cycle arkose. Modern quantitative data confirm this hypothesis and highlight exceptions where first-cycle arkosic sediments have been diagenetically altered by intense weathering to yield second-cycle quartz arenites. In this study, extensive sampling of upland source rocks and their derived sediments provided a robust data set with which to quantitatively evaluate the composition and provenance of Holocene sediments. Three upland source terrains were identified: Paleozoic crystalline basement of the Chiapas Massif; Mesozoic to Cenozoic siliciclastic and carbonate rocks of the Chiapas fold belt; and Cenozoic sedimentary rocks in the foothills of the fold belt. Holocene sediments from these source terrains are grouped into seven facies (A–G) based on their provenance and geographic location. Facies A consists of feldspathic sediments from the Mezcalapa-Grijalva River that are sourced from the Chiapas Massif. Facies B consists of lithic-rich sediments from the same area that are derived from the Chiapas fold belt. Facies A and B consist predominantly of first-cycle sand capable of yielding arkosic deposits. Facies C represents a mixture of Facies A and B sands deposited along the course of the Mezcalapa-Grijalva River. Facies D (from Rio Sierra) and Facies E (from Rio Pedregal) represent second-cycle feldspathic sands of the coastal-plain delta and were derived from Cenozoic sedimentary rocks of the foothills. Mild chemical weathering due to rapid mechanical erosion enabled the creation of these arkosic deposits. They are less feldspathic than their parents and have limited occurrence due to mixing with less feldspathic first-cycle sands downstream from their sources. Facies F (from Rio Zanapa) and Facies G (from Lagunas Rosario and Enmedio) represent second-cycle quartzose sands of the low-lying savanna that were also derived from Cenozoic sedimentary rocks in the foothills of the fold belt. Intense, long-term (>10,000 yr) chemical weathering of these sands has precluded the formation of arkoses, instead yielding quartz arenites. They are more weathered than the delta sands (Facies D, E) with a greater loss of feldspar and carbonate detritus. They are enriched in silica and depleted in alumina, CaO, Na2O, and K2O relative to Facies A arkoses due to loss of feldspars and mafic minerals. Second-cycle sediments eroded from Tertiary sedimentary rocks in the foothills (Facies D–G) contain detrital serpentine and chromite with high abundances of Cr and Ni, suggesting an ultramafic component in their provenance. Cr and Ni are effective tracers for second-cycle components in sands of mixed provenance.

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