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The Guerrero Composite Terrane of western Mexico is the second largest terrane in North America. Mostly characterized by submarine volcanism and formed by five terranes, the Guerrero records vast and complex subduction-related processes influenced by major translation and rifting. It is composed of the Teloloapan, Guanajuato, Arcelia, Tahue, and Zihuatanejo Terranes. The Teloloapan Terrane is made up of Lower Cretaceous island-arc (IA) andesitic to basaltic submarine lava flows, interbedded with limestone and shallow-marine volcaniclastic rocks. The Guanajuato and Arcelia Terranes are characterized by Lower Cretaceous supra-subduction ophiolite successions formed by deep-marine volcanic and sedimentary rocks with mid-oceanic-ridge basalt (MORB), oceanic-island basalt (OIB), and island-arc basalt (IAB) signatures. These two terranes are placed between the continent and the more evolved arc assemblages of the Zihuatanejo Terrane. The Tahue Terrane is composed of Paleozoic accreted arc and eugeoclinal sedimentary rocks, Triassic rift-related metaigneous rocks, and overlain unconformably by pillow basalts, limestone, and volcaniclastic rocks. The Zihuatanejo Terrane was formed by Triassic ocean-flank to ocean-floor assemblages accreted in Early Jurassic time (subduction complexes). The subduction complexes are overlain by Middle Jurassic–evolved volcanic arc rocks, which are in turn unconformably overlain by Early and Late Cretaceous subaerial and marine arc-related volcano-sedimentary assemblages.

Mesozoic stratigraphy at the paleocontinental margin of Mexico (Oaxaquia and Mixteca Terranes) is formed by Triassic submarine fan turbidites accreted during Early Jurassic time; Middle Jurassic–evolved volcanic arc rocks are unconformably covered by a Late Jurassic to Cretaceous calcareous platform.

Six stages in the tectonic evolution are proposed on the basis of the stratigraphic and deformational events recorded in western Mexico: (1) A passive or rifting margin developed along the western margin of continental Mexico throughout the Triassic. A thick siliciclastic turbiditic succession of the Potosi Submarine Fan was accumulated on the paleo-continental shelf-slope and extended to the west in a marginal oceanic basin. (2) Subduction began in the Early Jurassic, and the turbidites of the Potosi Fan with slivers of the oceanic crust were accreted, forming a wide subduction prism. (3) Exhumation of the accretionary prism and development of a Middle Jurassic continental arc onto the paleo-continental margin (Oaxaquia and Mixteca Terrane) took place, and also in the Zihuatanejo Terrane. (4) Intra-arc strike-slip faulting and rifting of the Middle Jurassic continental arc took place along with migration of the subduction toward the west and development of a calcareous platform in Oaxaquia and the Mixteca Terrane (continental Mexico). (5) Drifting of the previously accreted Tahue and Zihuatanejo Terranes formed a series of marginal arc-backarc systems, or one continuously drifting arc with intra-arc and backarc basins during Early to middle Cretaceous time. (6) Deformation of the arc assemblages, and development of Santonian to Maastrichtian foreland and other basins, date the final amalgamation of the Guerrero Composite Terrane with the continental margin.

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