Syn-rift volcanism of the Neuquen Basin, Argentina: relationships with the Late Triassic-Early Jurassic evolution of the Andean margin.

Leandro D’Elia, Martin Muravchik, Juan R. Franzese, Andres Bilmes


The Neuquen Basin constitutes one of the most conspicuous features of the Andean margin of Gondwana during Mesozoic times. The initial syn-rift infill (Late Triassic-Early Jurassic) of this ensialic extensional basin involved a profuse magmatic activity (Precuyano Cycle). Outcrops of the southern depocentres of the basin (Chachil, Catan Lil, Chacaico, Sanico y Piedra del aguila) were studied in order to analyze the characteristics of this magmatic cycle. Shallow intrusive, lava flow and pyroclastic accumulation units of the syn-rift sequence conform up to 70% of the total infill. The syn-rift sequence shows a particular spatial-temporal evolution from mainly intermediate volcanic rocks at the base to mainly acidic pyroclastic rocks to the top. Volcanic feeding-systems were characterized by shallow and multiple-injection magmatic chambers. Eight main alteration facies related to syn- and post-volcanic stages were determined. Trace element data show that the lava and pyroclastic products share a co-magmatic trend, dominated by intermediate to acid products. Rocks belong to the sub-alkaline series, mostly calc-alkaline and transitional, and in a lesser extent tholeiitic, with orogenic signature. Nevertheless, the stratigraphical and compositional features (>50% of acid volcanic products) suggest some differences with typical arc-series. Recent models to explain the magmatic systems in complex convergent margins were discussed (i.e., intra-crustal and extra-crustal models), being chosen an extra-crustal model to justify the compositional and stratigraphical features of the Precuyano Cycle. According to this model the partial melting of an underplating ‘silicic cold plume’ (metasediment-oceanic crust melanges derived from subducted slab) would explain the wide distribution transversal to the margin of the Precuyano volcanism, whereas the degree of partial melting of the ‘plume’ would explain the prevailing composition of the cycle: andesitic and daciticrhyodacitic compositions. The onset of extension made possible the rising of the initial andesitic volcanism, whereas during either the rifting climax or along the sites with major crustal extension, the high viscosity acid magmas would have been preferentially risen. Finally, an Andean segmentation at 40°S would explain the development of an extensional segment towards the north, where the Neuquen basin was developed, and the magmatic arc towards the south, represented by the Subcordilleran Batholith.

How to cite this article D’Elia, L.; Muravchik, M.; Franzese, J.; Bilmes, A. 2012, Syn-rift volcanism of the Neuquen Basin, Argentina: relationships with the Late Triassic-Early Jurassic evolution of the Andean margin.. Andean Geology 39 (1) : 106-132. .