Skip to Main Content

Transition from Late Jurassic rifting to Middle Cretaceous dynamic foreland, Southwestern U.S. and northwestern Mexico

Timothy F. Lawton, Jeffrey M. Amato, Sarah E. K. Machin, John C. Gilbert and Spencer G. Lucas
Transition from Late Jurassic rifting to Middle Cretaceous dynamic foreland, Southwestern U.S. and northwestern Mexico
Geological Society of America Bulletin (April 2020) Pre-Issue Publication


Subsidence history and sandstone provenance of the Bisbee basin of southwestern New Mexico, southern Arizona, and northern Sonora, Mexico, demonstrate basin evolution from an array of Late Jurassic-Early Cretaceous rift basins to a partitioned middle Cretaceous retroarc foreland basin. The foreland basin contained persistent depocenters that were inherited from the rift basin array and determined patterns of Albian-early Cenomanian sediment routing. Upper Jurassic and Valanginian-Aptian strata were deposited in three narrow extensional basins, termed the Altar-Cucurpe, Huachuca, and Bootheel basins. Initially rapid Late Jurassic subsidence in the basins slowed in the Early Cretaceous, then increased again from mid-Albian through middle Cenomanian time, marking an episode of foreland subsidence. Sandstone composition and detrital zircon provenance indicate different sediment sources in the three basins and demonstrate their continued persistence as depocenters during Albian foreland basin development. Late Jurassic basins received sediment from a nearby magmatic arc that migrated westward with time. Following a 10-15 m.y. depositional hiatus, an Early Cretaceous continental margin arc supplied sediment to the Altar-Cucurpe basin in Sonora as early as ca. 136 Ma, but local sedimentary and basement sources dominated the Huachuca basin of southern Arizona until catchment extension tapped the arc source at ca. 123 Ma. The Bootheel basin of southwestern New Mexico received sediment only from local basement and recycled sedimentary sources with no contemporary arc source evident. During renewed Albian-Cenomanian subsidence, the arc continued to supply volcanic-lithic sand to the Altar-Cucurpe basin, which by then was the foredeep of the foreland basin. Sandstone of the Bootheel basin is more quartzose than the Altar-Cucurpe basin, but uncommon sandstone beds contain neovolcanic lithic fragments and young zircon grains that were transported to the basin as airborne ash. Latest Albian-early Cenomanian U-Pb tuff ages, detrital zircon maximum depositional ages ranging from ca. 102 Ma to 98 Ma, and ammonite fossils all demonstrate equivalence of middle Cretaceous proximal foreland strata of the U.S.-Mexico border region with distal back-bulge strata of the Cordilleran foreland basin. Marine strata buried a former rift shoulder in southwestern New Mexico during late Albian to earliest Cenomanian time (ca. 105-100 Ma), prior to widespread transgression in central New Mexico (ca. 98 Ma). Lateral stratigraphic continuity across the former rift shoulder likely resulted from regional dynamic subsidence following late Albian collision of the Guerrero composite volcanic terrane with Mexico and emplacement of the Farallon slab beneath the U.S.-Mexico border region. Inferred dynamic subsidence in the foreland of southern Arizona and southwestern New Mexico was likely augmented in Sonora by flexural subsidence adjacent to an incipient thrust load driven by collision of the Guerrero superterrane.

ISSN: 0016-7606
EISSN: 1943-2674
Serial Title: Geological Society of America Bulletin
Serial Volume: Pre-Issue Publication
Title: Transition from Late Jurassic rifting to Middle Cretaceous dynamic foreland, Southwestern U.S. and northwestern Mexico
Affiliation: University of Texas-Austin, Jackson School of Geosciences, Bureau of Economic Geology, Austin, TX, United States
Published: 20200408
Text Language: English
Publisher: Geological Society of America (GSA), Boulder, CO, United States
References: 196
Accession Number: 2020-039387
Categories: StratigraphyStructural geology
Document Type: Serial
Bibliographic Level: Analytic
Annotation: GSA Data Repository item 2020158
Illustration Description: illus. incl. strat. cols., 5 tables, geol. sketch maps
N25°00'00" - N40°00'00", W120°00'00" - W105°00'00"
Secondary Affiliation: New Mexico State University, USA, United StatesOklahoma Office of Management and Enterprise Services, USA, United StatesNew Mexico Museum of Natural History, USA, United States
Country of Publication: United States
Secondary Affiliation: GeoRef, Copyright 2020, American Geosciences Institute. Reference includes data from GeoScienceWorld, Alexandria, VA, United States. Reference includes data supplied by the Geological Society of America, Boulder, CO, United States
Update Code: 2020
Close Modal
This Feature Is Available To Subscribers Only

Sign In or Create an Account

Close Modal
Close Modal