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The present-day “Andean” configuration of the Neuquén Basin has been classically used in most paleogeographic reconstructions of the existing literature as a consequence of the compressive deformation episode of the Andean orogeny, which resulted in a foreland stage initiated during the Late Cretaceous. The configuration displays its classic structural elements and morphostructural domains, as well as the origin of fold-and-thrust belts. Conversely, based on a great amount of preexisting data, it has been noticed that the present-day “Andean” configuration greatly differs from that of the basin during the deposition of the Vaca Muerta Formation, when a stage of subduction-related thermal sag with some punctuated episodic inversions took place, in a retro-arc basin context. This chapter analyzes the paleoconfiguration of the basin during the time in which the Vaca Muerta-Quintuco system was deposited (early Tithonian to early Valanginian). The basin paleoconfiguration during that interval clearly represents a first-order geological control on the stratigraphic architecture of the Vaca Muerta Formation (clinoform internal and external geometries, progradation patterns, extent), as well as on the mineralogical composition and thicknesses of the organic-rich facies.

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