A Late Triassic tectonothermal event in the eastern Acatlán Complex, southern Mexico, synchronous with a magmatic arc hiatus

the result of flat-slab subduction?

Moritz Kirsch*, Maria Helbig, J. Duncan Keppie, J. Brendan Murphy, James K. W. Lee, Luigi A. Solari

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

10 Citations (Scopus)


Basement rocks exposed in the Acatlán Complex of the Mixteca terrane in southern Mexico record two tectonothermal events: (1) a Devonian-Mississippian (ca. 365-318 Ma) event, recording extrusion and exhumation of high-pressure rocks; and (2) an Early to Middle Permian (ca. 289-263 Ma) event, involving N-S dextral shearing, transtensional deformation, and local S-vergent thrusting in a magmatic arc environment. We document an additional, regionally significant, tectonothermal event during the Middle to Late Triassic recorded by 40Ar/39Ar step-heating laser-probe ages ranging from ca. 239 and 219 Ma (≡ cooling from ca. 525 °C to 300 °C) for amphibole, muscovite, and biotite from: (1) the Carboniferous Amarillo unit, consisting of medium-grade, metasedimentary rocks intruded by mafic dikes; and (2) the Pennsylvanian-Middle Permian, low-grade, clastic-calcareous, arc-related Tecomate Formation. U-Pb laser ablation-inductively coupled plasmamass spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS) data yield an age of 339 ± 6 Ma for the youngest population of detrital zircon grains in the Amarillo unit. Lithogeochemical and Sm-Nd isotopic data for the Amarillo unit dikes are very similar to those of other Carboniferous meta-igneous rocks in the eastern and southwestern part of the Acatlán Complex, displaying affinities transitional between mid-ocean-ridge basalt (MORB) and continental tholeiites, and initial εNd (t = 339 Ma) values from -6.6 to +6.4, indicating both depleted and enriched mantle sources, as well as variable contamination by continental crust or by subduction-derived fluids. The 40Ar/39Ar cooling ages coincide with an apparent hiatus in magmatic activity in southern Mexico, which is inferred to record a change from steep to flat subduction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)63-79
Number of pages17
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2014
Externally publishedYes

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