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The evolving chemistry of the Chachahuén volcanic complex provides evidence for transient entry of a subduction zone component into the mantle wedge over a late Miocene shallow subduction zone under the Neuquén Basin. The Chachahuén complex, which is in the backarc of the Andean Southern Volcanic Zone near 37°S and some 500 km east of the Chile Trench, occurs at the intersection of NE and SE fault systems that parallel regional trends. Support for a shallow subduction-zone setting at the time of eruption and during the contractional uplift of the Sierra de Chachahuén comes from K/Ar and new 40Ar/39Ar ages, mineral assemblages, major and trace element chemistry, and Nd-Sr-Pb isotopic compositions. Importantly, the chemistry of the Chachahuén rocks requires an arc-like component in the mantle that is absent in both early Miocene or Pliocene alkaline lavas erupted in the same region. The oldest Chachahuén volcanic rocks are the ca. 7.3–6.8 Ma Vizcachas group orthopyroxene-bearing andesites to rhyodacites that erupted from fissures and small centers along the NE-trending fault system. Intraplate chemical tendencies in the most silicic samples are attributed to mantle-derived basalts interacting with a lower crust that has a chemical imprint that reflects older alkaline magmatic events. Younger Chachahuén group volcanic rocks erupted at ca. 6.8–6.4 Ma from vents generally aligned along the NE-trending fault system and ca. 6.3–4.9 Ma magmas that erupted from a trap-door–type caldera and flanking stratovolcanoes along the NW-trending fault system. These high-K basaltic to dacitic rocks contain amphibole phenocrysts and show arc-like high field strength element depletions that are the strongest in basaltic andesite lavas. Parallels between Chachahuén volcanic rocks and uplift of the Sierra de Chachahuén with late Miocene Pocho volcanic rocks and uplift of the Pampean Ranges over the modern Chilean flat-slab support transient Miocene shallow subduction zone under the Neuquén Basin.

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