The lacustrine system of the Mollar Formation in the Triassic Santa Clara Depocenter (Mendoza Province, Argentina).

Luis A. Spalletti, Ana Maria Zavattieri


The Triassic Santa Clara depocenter, Cuyo Basin, is characterised by thick fine-grained deposits formed in lacustrine systems. One of them, represented by the Mollar Formation, exceeds the 345 m. The lower to middle section of this unit is dominated by a monotonous succession of black shales having a high content of amorphous organic matter produced by algae and highly degraded plant remains. These deposits were formed by suspension fallout in the anoxic ‘offshore’ sector of a hydrologically closed lake. Thin and fine-grained turbiditic beds and stromatolitic carbonates are intercalated in the fine-grained succession. Small-scale coarsening-upward cycles (PACs) are attributed to episodes of lake expansion-retraction driven by climate change. A facies association composed of an heterolithic package represents the deposits of the transition between ‘nearshore’ and ‘offshore’ settings. The upper section of the
Mollar Formation essentially consists of bioturbated mudstones suggesting a greater oxygenation of the substrate. They are assigned to the ‘offshore’ environment of a holomictic hydrologically open lake system. Sporadic hyperpycnal flows are documented by intercalations of sandy turbidites. Bioturbated sandstone beds with primary structures indicative of both normal and storm wave action and unidirectional flows, represent the marginal deposits of the lacustrine system. In addition to the high-frequency cycles, three larger scale asymmetrical sequences are identified in the Mollar Formation. These sequences suggest episodes of major expansion-contraction of the lake system due to the interaction between climatic and tectonic factors. The overall shallowing up stacking pattern of the Mollar Formation and the gradual transition to fluvial deposits of the overlying Montaña Formation reflects a steady reduction of accommodation space in the Santa Clara depocenter during the accumulation of the studied succession.

How to cite this article Spalletti, L.; Zavattieri, A. 2009, The lacustrine system of the Mollar Formation in the Triassic Santa Clara Depocenter (Mendoza Province, Argentina).. Andean Geology 36 (2) : 236-263. [doi:]