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The Cretaceous-Paleogene Mexican orogen; structure, basin development, magmatism and tectonics

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doi: 10.1016/j.earscirev.2017.03.002
Authors:Fitz-Diaz, Elisa; Lawton, Timothy F.; Juárez-Arriaga, Edgar; Chávez-Cabello, Gabriel
Author Affiliations:Primary:
Instituto de Geologia, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Ciudad de, Mexico
Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Mexico
Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Juriquilla, Qro., Mexico
, Juriquilla, Qro., Mexico
Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León, Linares, N.L., Mexico
Volume Title:Tectonic systems of Mexico; origin and evolution
Volume Authors:Ortega-Gutiérrez, Fernando, editor; Gómez-Tuena, Arturo
Source:Tectonic systems of Mexico; origin and evolution, Fernando Ortega-Gutiérrez and Arturo Gómez-Tuena. Earth-Science Reviews, Vol.183, p.56-84. Publisher: Elsevier, Amsterdam, Netherlands. ISSN: 0012-8252
Publication Date:2018
Note:In English. 283 refs.; illus., incl. geol. sketch maps, strat. cols., sects., 1 table
Summary:The Mexican orogen is the expression in Mexico of the Cordilleran orogenic system. The orogen extends the length of Mexico, a distance of 2000 km from the state of Sonora in the northwest to the state of Oaxaca in the south. The Mexican orogen consists of (1) a western hinterland of accreted oceanic basinal rocks and magmatic arc rocks generally known as the Guerrero volcanic superterrane, (2) a foreland orogenic wedge, commonly termed the Mexican fold and thrust belt (MFTB), composed of imbricated and folded Upper Jurassic-Lower Cretaceous carbonate rocks and Upper Cretaceous foreland-basin strata, and (3) an assemblage of variably folded and inverted Late Cretaceous to Eocene foreland basins that lie northeast and east of the MFTB. The Mexican orogen encompasses the entire country, spanning several physiographic provinces and deformational domains that display both thin-skinned and thick-skinned structural styles determined by inherited crustal structure and contrasting pre-kinematic sedimentary sections. The orogen contains kinematic characteristics of both the Sevier and Laramide orogens in the United States (U.S.), and deformation in the Mexican orogen spanned the deformational history of those U.S. orogens. The overall trend of the Mexican orogen is NW-SE, although it displays local trend variations. At presently exposed levels, the orogen consists of folded and reverse-faulted Mesozoic-Eocene strata. Lower Cretaceous strata of the deformed foreland are dominated by carbonate rocks, whereas time-equivalent strata in the hinterland consist of deformed plutons belonging to one or more magmatic arcs, as well as turbidites, pillow lavas and altered mafic rocks deposited in an offshore basin prior to consolidation of fringing arc systems to mainland Mexico. Upper Cretaceous syntectonic strata of the foreland orogenic wedge constitute siliciclastic turbidite successions that grade eastward to carbonate pelagites of the distal foreland basin, which was starved of siliciclastic sediment input. Uppermost Cretaceous and Paleogene strata of the foreland basin constitute a shelfal, deltaic and coastal plain fluvial succession in northeastern Mexico and a succession of turbidites in the Tampico-Misantla basin east of the MFTB.Structural geometry of the orogen was controlled by the spatial distribution of pre-Cretaceous crustal elements, such as Jurassic extensional basins and basement blocks, and detachment horizons at varying stratigraphic levels, as well as the direction of structural vergence, which is dominated by NE-directed tectonic transport throughout the belt. Jurassic evaporite horizons and Upper Jurassic carbonaceous shale units provide detachment surfaces in some parts of the orogen. The structural style of the MFTB is generally thin-skinned, although high-angle faults are present at several localities, where the steep faults cut thin-skinned, shallowly-dipping faults, detachment horizons and associated folds. Strain magnitude decreases toward the foreland and generally satisfies critical wedge predictions. Values of shortening > 70% are present in the hinterland of central Mexico; these decrease systematically to values < 15% to the front of the fold belt where upper Eocene onlap successions in the Gulf of Mexico coastal plain unconformably overlie deformed strata of the orogenic wedge. Exceptions to this pattern of regional shortening values are well documented and are related to lateral variations in mechanical properties caused by facies variations, notably massive platformal carbonates as contrasted with thinly-bedded basinal carbonates.Shortening history in the Mexican orogen approximately spanned Late Cretaceous-Eocene time. Deformation timing has been constrained using Ar-Ar systematics on illite generated by layer-parallel slip in the limbs of chevron folds. Estimates of deformation timing are in good agreement with the age of synorogenic sedimentary successions, and with ages of syn-tectonic plutons. Published data from central Mexico suggest episodic pulses of deformation between 93-80 Ma, 75-64 Ma and 55-43 Ma, which postdate the closure of the Arperos basin. Each of these shortening events affects rock units lying progressively farther to the east to yield a temporal eastward advance of deformation and sedimentation. Effects of successively younger shortening were superimposed on the westernmost exposures of the thrust belt and are evidenced on a map scale by abrupt trend variations in orogen-interior folds, compared to generally linear or broadly arcuate axial traces of frontal folds.Although potential tectonic mechanisms for shortening in the Mexican orogen remain debated, our analysis indicates that orogenic wedge development took place in a retroarc setting that postdated consolidation of the hinterland oceanic assemblages, which lay offshore western Mexico during Albian time. Orogen development followed a protracted period of early Mesozoic extension that affected most of the Mexico due to the combined effects of Laurentia-Gondwana separation and long-term Triassic-Jurassic rollback of a paleo-Farallon plate. Slab rollback ultimately resulted in the development of a marginal basin, the Arperos basin, between a rifted Late Jurassic magmatic arc and mainland Mexico. Initial shortening in the Mexican orogen, which followed Arperos basin closure and Guerrero superterrane accretion by ≈ 5-10 Ma, was coeval with voluminous magmatism on the Pacific margin of Mexico, drowning of the western carbonate platforms and onset of foreland-basin sedimentation in Cenomanian time. Subduction of the Farallon slab from early Late Cretaceous to Eocene time was thus the primary driving mechanism of shortening in the Mexican orogen.
Subjects:Absolute age; Basins; Carbonate rocks; Cenozoic; Chemically precipitated rocks; Cordilleran Orogeny; Cretaceous; Dates; Deformation; Eocene; Evaporites; Extension; Geometry; Jurassic; Laramide Orogeny; Lava; Lower Cretaceous; Mafic composition; Magmatism; Mesozoic; Orogeny; Paleogene; Sedimentary rocks; Structures; Tectonics; Tertiary; Turbidite; Upper Cretaceous; Upper Jurassic; Mexico; Sevier orogenic belt; United States
Coordinates:N160000 N330000 W0860000 W1120000
Record ID:872916-5
Copyright Information:GeoRef, Copyright 2021 American Geosciences Institute. Reference includes data from CAPCAS, Elsevier Scientific Publishers, Amsterdam, Netherlands
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