Abstract

Late Miocene plutons in coastal Chiapas, Mexico, represent the roots of an extinct magmatic arc. Miocene granitoids of calc-alkaline composition and arc chemistry intruded into and were deformed within the Tonalá mylonite belt in the middle to upper crust. The mylonite belt is a crustal-scale shear zone extending along the western margin of the Chiapas Massif for ∼150 km. Deformation is characterized by a dominantly subhorizontal lineation and subvertical foliation along a strikingly linear zone that trends ∼310°. Mylonitic fabrics contain ambiguous but dominantly sinistral shear indicators. Intrusions are interpreted as syntectonic on the basis of similar U-Pb zircon crystallization age estimates (ca. 10 Ma) and the cooling age estimates obtained on neoformed micas in the mylonite. The plutons are elongated, their long axis is parallel to shear zone, and some plutons show markedly asymmetric outcrop patterns, with sheared tails that trail behind the intrusions and that are consistent with sinistral displacement. Parts of plutons were mylonitized by continuous deformation in the Tonalá shear zone, locally developing intricate pseudotachylyte and cataclasite veins slightly oblique to the mylonite foliation. Outside of the shear zone, plutons preserve magmatic fabrics. These observations are consistent with features common to syntectonic granites interpreted to have been emplaced along strike-slip shear zones in a transpressional setting. We interpret the Tonalá mylonites as representing a relict transform boundary that was slightly oblique to the Polochic-Motagua fault system, which accommodated over 100 km of sinistral displacement between the Chortis block (on the Caribbean plate) and Chiapas (on the North America plate) in late Miocene time.

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