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Revista geológica de Chile

Print version ISSN 0716-0208


ASTINI, Ricardo A  and  MARENGO, Larisa F. Paleoenvironments and sequential stratigraphy of Ordovician marginal marine deposits of Sierra de Zapla (Sierras Subandinas, northwestern Argentina) and their relation with the Central Andean Basin. Rev. geol. Chile [online]. 2006, vol.33, n.2, pp.247-276. ISSN 0716-0208.

The best and most complete palynologically constrained Ordovician section across the Sierras Subandinas crops out in the southern part of the Sierra de Zapla along the Capillas River (Subandean Ranges, Jujuy Province). The dominantly marginal marine setting explains the scarcity of invertebrates throughout the section. Palynomorphs are the main tool in stratigraphic studies of the area and trace fossils are important aids in paleoenvironmental analysis. Based on a detailed facies analysis, geometry and paleocurrent analysis, and recognition of key surfaces, four depositional sequences (S1-S4) with different internal arrangements and compatible with 3rd order cycles were identified. The Zanjón Formation (upper part of Global Stage 2 and Global Stage 3) with unexposed base, initiates the stratigraphic section and it is characterized by a heterolithic facies association with subordinate storm layers, thin-bedded phosphate-rich micro-conglomerates and inarticulate-rich shell beds. Common subaerial exposure features like truncated ripple tops and mud cracks suggest tidal flat environments. This interval yields a mixed Skolithos-Cruziana ichnofacies. Towards the top, an increase in mottling and a gradual change into dominant purplish-red colors (Laja Morada Member of the Labrado Formation) indicate a protracted subaerial emergence during a Darriwilian (Global Stage 4) relative sea-level drop, and a fluctuating water table in interfluves. This unit is covered in sharp erosive boundary by the Lagunilla Member of the Labrado Formation, suggesting development of composite fluvial incisions. Sandy fluvial to tide-dominated estuarine fills and thoroughly-bioturbated subtidal hetherolithic beds overlie the sequence boundary representing a typical transgressive systems tract. Development of surfaces with dominant Skolithos forms are interpreted as representing Glossifungites ichnofacies typically indicating by-pass erosion and firm-ground development previous to reworking of interfluves by advancing ravinement surface. The Capillas Formation (upper Darriwilian and lower part of Global Stage 5), sharply levels the previous estuarine complexes and represents a fine-grained wedge that gradually coarsens up. This unit contains the only truly marine shelly fauna concentrated in few storm beds above the fine-grained interval that characterizes a maximum flooding stage. This is the only interval that can be positively correlated with sections in the Cordillera Oriental to the west and Bolivia. A gradual coarsening to silty sandstones and the replacement of Cruziana by Skolithos dominated ichnofacies suggest a shallowing-upward section, capped by the thick-bedded, high energy quartz sandstones with pipe-rock structures of the Centinela Formation (middle and upper part of Global Stage 5). A shallowing-upward trend indicates the progradation of deltaic complexes, which in turn were erosively truncated by the waxing stage of the Gondwanan Hirnantian (uppermost Ordovician) ice-cap represented by the Zapla Formation (Global Stage 6) along the Central Andes. Above the diamictite-rich Zapla Formation the Lipeón Formation (Silurian) is interpreted as related to repeated transgressive ravinement surfaces that truncated Fe+2 saturated estuaries after a waning glacial stage and isostatic rebound, favouring the deposition of oolitic ironstones and succeeded by the development of a Zoophycos dominated muddy shelf

Keywords : Paleoenvironments; Sequence stratigraphy; Ordovician; Sierras Subandinas; Northwest Argentina; Central Andean Basin.

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