Cordilleran Section - 108th Annual Meeting (29–31 March 2012)

Paper No. 7
Presentation Time: 11:15


FERRARI, Luca1, OROZCO-ESQUIVEL, Teresa2, LÓPEZ MARTÍNEZ, Margarita3, DUQUE, Jose2, BRYAN, Scott4 and CERCA, Mariano2, (1)Instituto de Geología, Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, Circuito Investigacion Cientifica, Ciudad Universitaria, Mexico City, 04510, Mexico, (2)Centro de Geociencias, Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, Campus Juriquilla, Blvd. Juriquilla 3001, Queretaro, 76230, Mexico, (3)Centro de Investigaciones Cientificas y Educacion Superior de Ensenada, Km. 107 Carrertera Tijuana-Ensenada, Ensenada, Baja California Norte, Mexico, (4)Earth, Environmental and Biological Sciences, Queensland University of Technology, GPO Box 2434, Brisbane, 4001, Australia,

Cenozoic extension in western Mexico has been divided into two episodes separated by the change from convergence to oblique divergence at the plate boundary. The Gulf Extensional Province is thought to have started once subduction ended at ~12.5 Ma whereas early extension is classified as Basin and Range. Mid-Miocene volcanism of the Comondú group has been considered as a subduction-related arc, whereas post ~12.5 Ma volcanism would be extension-related. Our new integration of the continental onshore and offshore geology of the south-east Gulf region, backed by tens of Ar-Ar and U-Pb ages and geochemical studies, document an early-mid Miocene rifting and extension-related bimodal to andesitic magmatism prior to subduction termination. Between ~21 and 11 Ma a system of NNW-SSE high-angle extensional faults rifted the western side of the Sierra Madre Occidental (SMO) ignimbrite plateau. In Nayarit, rhyolitic domes and some basalts were emplaced along this extensional belt at 18-17 Ma. These rocks show strong antecrystic inheritance but an absence of Mesozoic and older xenocrysts, suggesting a genesis in the mid-upper crust triggered by extension-induced basaltic influx. In Sinaloa, large grabens were floored by huge dome complexes at ~21-17 Ma and filled by continental sediments with interlayered basalts dated at 15 Ma. Mid-Miocene volcanism, including the largely volcaniclastic Comondú strata in Baja California, was thus emplaced in rift basins and appears associated to decompression melting rather than subduction. Along the coast, flat-lying basaltic lava flows dated at 11-10 Ma are exposed just above the present sea level. Here crustal thickness is 25-20 Km, almost half that in the core of the SMO, implying significant lithosphere stretching before ~11 Ma. This mafic pulse, with relatively high Ti but still clear Nb-Ta negative spikes, may be related to the detachment of the lower part of the subducted slab, allowing asthenosphere to flow into parts of the mantle previously fluxed by subduction fluids. Very uniform OIB-like lavas appear in late Pliocene and Pleistocene, only 18 m.y. after the onset of rifting and ~9 m.y. after the end of subduction. Our study shows that rifting began much earlier than Late Miocene and progressively overwhelmed subduction in generating magmatism.