Geology and tectonics of the southeastern portion of the Sierra de Guanajuato1
Published:January 01, 2012
José Jorge Aranda-Gómez, Pablo Dávila-Harris, Luis Fernando Vassallo-Morales, Martha Godchaux, Bill Bonnichsen, Juventino Martínez-Reyes, Gerardo de Jesús Aguirre-Díaz, Maria Amabel Ortega-Rivera, 2012. "Geology and tectonics of the southeastern portion of the Sierra de Guanajuato", The Southern Cordillera and Beyond, José Jorge Aranda-Gómez, Gustavo Tolson, Roberto S. Molina-Garza
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Guanajuato has a long history (450 years) of mineral exploitation and remarkable silver and gold production from a complex system of fault-veins. Despite this, it is only in the past 40 years that the systematic study of its geology has been conducted. Mid-Tertiary epithermal veins occur in all the Mesozoic and Paleogene rock units exposed in the mining district, and mineralization seems to be the result of the combination of several geologic factors, such as the occurrence of greenschists in the basal complex, a thick sequence of Early Paleogene red beds overlain by a thick succession of Oligocene volcanic rocks with the existence of one or more paleolakes when the volcanoes were active. The systematic study of the greenschists and associated plutonic and sedimentary rocks in the basal complex of Sierra de Guanajuato has contributed significant information to the concept of accretion of the Guerrero terrane to the SW end of the North American craton in the Early Cretaceous. Research on the Eocene red bed sequence suggests that early extension occurred creating fault patterns that later were reactivated during Neogene Basin and Range pulses. Immediately east of the city of Guanajuato, a thick volcanic sequence is exposed, with two pyroclastic units formed by felsic ignimbrites that almost certainly are related to a nearby caldera, which was active immediately prior to Ag-Au mineralization. The first activity pulse of the caldera produced the Bufa ignimbrite, a massive unit that displays very large thickness variations (300 to <10 m) in short distances, which we interpret as a signal that it may be an intracaldera deposit. The second explosive pulse originated the Calderones formation, a unit formed by an undetermined but large number of ignimbrites, surge deposits, layers with accretionary lapilli, and epiclastic-volcanic deposits. The Calderones formation is characterized by pervasive chloritization, which points out toward the presence of external water in the system, probably related to one or more shallow lakes within the caldera previously formed by the Bufa eruption. Lithofacies variations and stratigraphic arguments suggest that the Guanajuato caldera was probably located near the Cerro Alto de Villalpando and La Peregrina lava dome complex. Morphological and structural evidence of the caldera are masked by several pulses of younger normal faulting which affected the southern portion of the Mexican Basin and Range Province (i.e., Mesa Central).
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The Southern Cordillera and Beyond
Prepared in conjunction with the 2012 GSA Cordilleran Section Meeting, Querétaro, Mexico, this volume's eight field guides showcase three aspects of the geology of the southern end of the North America cordillera: Mid-Tertiary and Quaternary volcanology, environmental geology, and Mesozoic tectonics. Field Guide 25 explores the Cenozoic stratigraphy of Sierra de Guanajuato, one of the most important Mexican mining districts, and addresses a controversial topic, the accretion of the Guerrero terrane and its possible role in the Late Cretaceous—Early Tertiary orogeny. Three guides related to the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt, an active magmatic arc related to subduction of the Rivera and Cocos plates, include new data about the recent volcanic history, physical volcanology, and volcanic hazards in Mexico's most densely populated area. Bringing the geosciences into societal problems, one guide presents data on ground deformation related to water extraction in urbanized areas of the Mexico City basin, and another explores the ghost town of the Mineral de Pozos mining district and the effect of mine tailings on groundwater.