The Ordovician Quebrada Grande Formation, Cordón de Lila (Antofagasta Region, northern Chile): stratigraphicand paleogeographic significance

Javier Gonzalez, Hans Niemeyer, Juan L. Benedetto, Edsel D. Brussa


The Cordón de Lila is located immediately to the south of the Salar de Atacama, in northern Chile. The geology of the Cordón de Lila is characterized by extensive outcrops of Early Paleozoic volcanic and sedimentary rocks (Cordón de Lila Igneous and Sedimentary Complex; CISL) that form the 'Arco magmático occidental' (AMO) which is intruded by a multiple suite of Middle Ordovician to Lower Silurian granitoids. In this contribution we report the results of a sedimentological and paleontological study of a recently discovered 1,600 m thick marine Ordovician sedimentary sequence (Quebrada Grande Formation) which unconformably overlies the CISL. The Quebrada Grande Formation comprises three mayor facies associations. In stratigrafic order, these facies associations are: matrix-supported conglomerates (1), interbedded sandstones and siltstones (2) and clast-supported conglomerates (3). Facies association (1) is interpreted as debris flow deposits accumulated in a proximal marine fan-delta setting while the overlying sandstones and siltstones facies (2) represent open-marine platform deposits. Clast-supported conglomerates (3) are the record of high-energy sedimentary episodes during which coarse sediments reached the distal part of the fan-delta. The detrital fraction of the Quebrada Grande Formation is derived from the erosion of the Cambrian?-Lower Ordovician? CISL volcanic arc, the plutonio roots of the arc and its continental basement. The age of this formation is well constrained by the occurrence of brachiopods (Paralenorthis sp., Monorthis transversa Benedetto, and Mollesella? sp.) near the base and graptolites (Tetragraptus sp. and Cryptograptus? sp.) towards the middle of the succession. Both brachiopods and graptolites indicate an Arenigian to early Llanvirnian (Darriwilian) age. The brachiopod assemblage from Cordón de Lila displays affinities with the Famatina basin fauna of western Argentina. The absence of taxa in common between the AMO and the nearby 'Faja Eruptiva de la Puna Occidental' (FEPO) of NW Argentina may result from some kind of environmental barrier or some geographic separation from the Gondwana margin. According to the latter hypothesis, the Quebrada Grande succession developed on the allochtonous Arequipa-Antofalla Terrane.

How to cite this article Gonzalez, J.; Niemeyer, H.; Benedetto, J.; Brussa, E. 2010, The Ordovician Quebrada Grande Formation, Cordón de Lila (Antofagasta Region, northern Chile): stratigraphicand paleogeographic significance. Revista Geológica de Chile 34 (2): 277-290. [doi:]