DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5027/andgeoV47n2-3214

Pedogenic and subaerial exposure microfabrics in a late Carboniferous-early Permian carbonate-volcanic lacustrine-palustrine system (San Ignacio Formation, Frontal Cordillera, Argentina)

Isabel Méndez-Bedia, Gloria Gallastegui, Pedro Busquets, Silvia N. Césari, Carlos O. Limarino, Eva Prats, Raúl Cardó, Ferrán Colombo

Abstract


In the Argentinian Andes (Frontal Cordillera) the upper part of the late Carboniferous-early Permian San Ignacio Formation is made up of lacustrine-palustrine microbial carbonates and interbedded volcanic deposits. In this lacustrine-palustrine environment a natural monospecific forest was developed. The deposits of this sedimentary-volcanic succession were repeatedly subjected to subaerial exposure and modified by pedogenesis to varying degrees giving rise to paleosoils development. Diagenetic microfabrics were well preserved in the carbonates and volcanic rocks. The carbonate microfabrics comprise a wide spectrum of features consisting of root marks and stumps-related structures (rhizoliths, alveolar texture, tunnel-like structures and coprolites of arthropods), pisoids, coated grains and pseudomicrokarst, cracking, brecciated and nodular fabrics, and grainification also occur corresponding to different stages in the pedogenic evolution. Meteoric dissolution and cementation processes are observed; examples are well identified by scanning electron microscope showing silica-filled voids in partially dissolved carbonates and growths of inorganic carbonate microcrystals or of microbial origin in voids. Other different types of cements can be seen such as discontinuous carbonate crusts, ribbon spar, cavities with silt infillings and pendant cements. The whole set of these microfabrics are indicative of wetting, desiccation and meteoric conditions (vadose and phreatic). The abundance of plant roots and associated micro-organisms mainly of bacterial origin (micro-rods, short rod-shapes, nano-fibres, filaments and nano-spheres) played an important role in the pedogenic and subaerial diagenetic processes affecting these deposits. The immature character of the paleosoils and absence of calcretes point out to short intervals of subaerial exposure due to oscillating fluctuations in water level, intermittent volcanic supply, tectonic subsidence and oscillating climatic conditions. The whole of the macro and microfabrics reveals that the prevailing weather could correspond to an intermediate between semi-arid to sub-humid, however the alternating wetting and drying conditions in which the fossil forest developed and the abundance and diversity of micro-organisms, suggest a transition to sub-humid climate conditions.

Keywords


Palustrine carbonates in volcanic setting; Subaerial exposure microfabrics; Pedologic features; Late Paleozoic; Frontal Cordillera; Argentina

How to cite this article Méndez-Bedia, I.; Gallastegui, G.; Busquets, P.; Césari, S.; Limarino, C.; Prats, E.; Cardó, R.; Colombo, F. 2020, Pedogenic and subaerial exposure microfabrics in a late Carboniferous-early Permian carbonate-volcanic lacustrine-palustrine system (San Ignacio Formation, Frontal Cordillera, Argentina). Andean Geology 47 (2): 275-294. [doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.5027/andgeoV47n2-3214]