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Granites of the Batholith of Central Patagonia were emplaced into late Precambrian metamorphic basement rocks and Palaeozoic orthogneisses (here dated by Rb–Sr whole-rock errorchrons at 346 ±35 Ma and 267 ±27 Ma), and are in fault-contact with younger volcanic rocks, mostly andesites. Two main suites of granites are recognised: both are much younger than their previously-supposed Late Palaeozoic age. The Gastre Suite is composed predominantly of hornblende-biotite granodiorite and monzogranite, often slightly foliated, and has yielded a Rb-Sr whole-rock isochron age of 220 ±3 Ma. The Lipetrén Suite includes biotite monzogranite and leucogranite, grading into quartz-feldspar porphyries and felsites, and has been dated at 208 ±1 Ma. A minor granodioritic unit yields an apparently Middle Jurassic age of 172 ±15 Ma. Textural evidence and hornblende geobarometry confirm that these are high-level sub-volcanic intrusions. Metaluminous compositions are common in the Gastre Suite, but are subordinate to highly siliceous (>70% SiO2) and peraluminous varieties in the Lipetrén Suite. Despite this compositional bias, the granites are almost entirely calcalkaline and I-type, and have volcanic-arc rather than intraplate or collisional trace element characteristics. Initial 87Sr/86Sr ratios of 0·706 and εNdt values of −2·5 are also relatively primitive and are thought to indicate a juvenile crustal contribution (Nd “depleted mantle” model ages are less than 1,000 Ma).

The Triassic “Gondwana” magmatic episode is thus not an expression of Permo-Triassic collision of an allochthonous Patagonian terrane with the rest of southern S America, but may be related to the initial stages of supercontinent rifting.

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