Sedimentary, structural, and provenance record of the Cianzo basin, Puna plateau-Eastern Cordillera boundary, NW Argentina

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Date

2011-05

Authors

Siks, Benjamin Charles

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Abstract

The fault-bounded Cianzo basin represents a Cenozoic intermontane depocenter between the Puna plateau and Eastern Cordillera of the central Andean fold-thrust belt in northern Argentina. New characterizations of fold-thrust structure, nonmarine sedimentation, and sediment provenance for the shortening-induced Cianzo basin at 23°S help constrain the origin, interconnectedness, and subsequent uplift and exhumation of the basin, which may serve as an analogue for other intermontane hinterland basins in the Andes. Structural mapping of the Cianzo basin reveals SW and NE-plunging synclines within the >6000 m-thick, upsection coarsening Cenozoic clastic succession in the shared footwall of the N-striking, E-directed Cianzo thrust fault and transverse, NE-striking Hornocal fault. Growth stratal relationships within upper Miocene levels of the succession indicate syncontractional sedimentation directly adjacent to the Hornocal fault. Measured stratigraphic sections and clastic sedimentary lithofacies of Cenozoic basin-fill deposits show upsection changes from (1) a distal fluvial system recorded by vi fine-grained, paleosol-rich, heavily bioturbated sandstones and mudstones (Paleocene‒Eocene Santa Bárbara Subgroup, ~400 m), to (2) a braided fluvial system represented by cross-stratified sandstones and interbedded mudstones with 0.3 to 8 m upsection-fining sequences (Upper Eocene–Oligocene Casa Grande Formation, ~1400 m), to (3) a distributary fluvial system in the distal sectors of a distributary fluvial megafan represented by structureless sheetflood sandstones, stratified pebble conglomerates and sandstones, and interbedded overbank mudstones (Miocene Río Grande Formation, ~3300 m), to (4) a proximal alluvial fan system with thick conglomerates interbedded with thin discontinuous sandstone lenses (upper Miocene Pisungo Formation, ~1600 m). New 40Ar/39Ar geochronological results for five interbedded volcanic tuffs indicate distributary fluvial deposition of the uppermost Río Grande Formation from 16.31 ± 0.6 Ma to 9.69 ± 0.05 Ma. Sandstone petrographic results show distinct upsection trends in lithic and feldspar content in the Casa Grande, Río Grande, and Pisungo formations, potentially distinguishing western magmatic arc (Western Cordillera) sediment sources from evolving eastern thrust-belt sources (Puna‒Eastern Cordillera). In addition to growth stratal relationships and 40Ar/39Ar constraints, conglomerate clast compositions reflect distinct lithologic differences, constraining the activation of the Cianzo thrust and coeval movement on the reactivated Hornocal fault. Finally, U-Pb geochronological analyses of sandstone detrital zircon populations in conjunction with paleocurrent data and depositional facies patterns help distinguish localized sources from more distal sources west of the basin, revealing a systematic eastward advance of Eocene to Miocene fold-thrust deformation in the central Andes of northern Argentina.

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