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Review of Upper Paleozoic and Lower Mesozoic stratigraphy and depositional environments of central and west Mexico: Constraints on terrane analysis and paleogeography

By
Elena Centeno-García
Elena Centeno-García
Instituto de Geologia, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Ciudad Universitaria, México D.F., 04510 México
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Published:
January 01, 2005

Reconstructing the geological evolution of central and western Mexico during the end of the Paleozoic and the beginning of the Mesozoic is very difficult because of a lack of exposures. The few outcrops available, and indirect information obtained from geophysical and geochemical data suggests that Central and Western Mexico are made up of a mosaic of pre-Jurassic terranes, and that previously defined ter-ranes are mostly composites of basements of different origins. Most of those terranes are allochthonous with respect to North America, but some developed not far from their present position. It has been suggested that the Coahuila and Sierra Madre terranes (Oaxaquia block), part of Gondwana during Early Paleozoic, collided with North America by Late Paleozoic time. However, their Mississippian faunas of North American affinity suggest that the collision might have occurred earlier. The nature of the basement of the Central terrane is unknown, but it is inferred to be allochtho-nous because there is an accretionary prism at its NE boundary. The basement of the Parral and Tahue terranes is formed by a deformed volcano-sedimentary complex of Early Paleozoic age, whose origin and paleogeographic evolution remains unknown. The Caborca and Cortes terranes are formed by Proterozoic metamorphic complexes and an accreted eugeoclinal Paleozoic sedimentary wedge. The basement of the Zihuatanejo terrane is made up of Triassic ocean-floor continental-rise assemblages accreted in Early Jurassic time.

An overview of new stratigraphic and geochronologic data indicates that a number of tectonic events occurred during Late Paleozoic to Early Mesozoic time. A continental arc with a paleo-Pacific, east-dipping subduction zone evolved from Carboniferous to Early Permian time in eastern Mexico (Oaxaquia), and it was in part contemporaneous to deformation in the Ouachita belt. This was followed by a period of volcanic quiescence during middle Permian. A more felsic arc, with a different distribution of the volcanic axis, developed along all the paleo-Pacific margin in the Permo-Triassic. Terranes in northwestern Mexico show a completely different geological evolution during the Carboniferous and Permian time. They were characterized by passive margin sedimentation and by folding and thrusting of eugeoclinal rocks in the Mississippian and Late Permian. By Late Triassic, a passive or rifting margin developed along the western margin of Oaxaquia, and thick successions of continent-derived sediments were accumulated on the paleocontinental shelf and slope (Potosi Fan) and in a marginal active oceanic basin (Arteaga Basin). Those rocks were deformed and accreted to nuclear Mexico by Late Triassic–Early Jurassic time, before the development of the Late Jurassic continental arc that was widespread along western and central Mexico.

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GSA Special Papers

The Mojave-Sonora Megashear Hypothesis: Development, Assessment, and Alternatives

Thomas H. Anderson
Thomas H. Anderson
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Jonathan A. Nourse
Jonathan A. Nourse
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James W. McKee
James W. McKee
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Maureen B. Steiner
Maureen B. Steiner
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Geological Society of America
Volume
393
ISBN print:
9780813723938
Publication date:
January 01, 2005

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