Extensional Late Paleozoic deformation on the western margin of Pangea, Patlanoaya area, Acatlán Complex, Southern Mexico

M. A. Ramos-Arias, J. D. Keppie*, A. Ortega-Rivera, J. W K Lee

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    33 Citations (Scopus)


    New mapping in the northern part of the Paleozoic Acatlán Complex (Patlanoaya area) records several ductile shear zones and brittle faults with normal kinematics (previously thought to be thrusts). These movement zones separate a variety of units that pass structurally upwards from: (i) blueschist-eclogitic metamorphic rocks (Piaxtla Suite) and mylonitic megacrystic granites (Columpio del Diablo granite ≡ Ordovician granites elsewhere in the complex); (ii) a gently E-dipping, listric, normal shear zone with top to the east kinematic indicators that formed under upper greenschist to lower amphibolite conditions; (iii) the Middle-Late Ordovician Las Minas quartzite (upper greenschist facies psammites with minor interbedded pelites intruded by mafic dikes and a leucogranite dike from the Columpio del Diablo granite) unconformably overlain by the Otate meta-arenite (lower greenschist facies psammites and pelites): roughly temporal equivalents are the Middle-Late Ordovician Mal Paso and Ojo de Agua units (interbedded metasandstone and slate, and metapelite and mafic minor intrusions, respectively) - some of these units are intruded by the massive, 461 ± 2 Ma, Palo Liso megacrystic granite: decussate, contact metamorphic muscovite yielded a 40Ar/39Ar plateau age of 440 ± 4 Ma; (iv) a steeply-moderately, E-dipping normal fault; (v) latest Devonian-Middle Permian sedimentary rocks (Patlanoaya Group: here elevated from formation status). The upward decrease in metamorphic grade is paralleled by a decrease in the number of penetrative fabrics, which varies from (i) three in the Piaxtla Suite, through (ii) two in the Las Minas unit (E-trending sheath folds deformed by NE-trending, subhorizontal folds with top to the southeast asymmetry, both associated with a solution cleavage), (iii) one in the Otate, Mal Paso, and Ojo de Agua units (steeply SE-dipping, NE-SW plunging, open-close folds), to (iv) none in the Patlanoaya Group. 40Ar/39Ar analyses of muscovite from the earliest cleavage in the Las Minas unit yielded a plateau age of 347 ± 3 Ma and show low temperature ages of ∼ 260 Ma. Post-dating all of these structures and the Patlanoaya Group are NE-plunging, subvertical folds and kink bands. An E-W, vertical normal fault juxtaposes the low-grade rocks against the Anacahuite amphibolite that is cut by megacrystic granite sheets, both of which were deformed by two penetrative fabrics. Amphibole from this unit has yielded a 40Ar/39Ar plateau age of 299 ± 6 Ma, which records cooling through ∼ 490 °C and is probably related to a Permo-Carboniferous reheating event during exhumation. The extensional deformation is inferred to have started in the latest Devonian (∼ 360 Ma) during deposition of the basal Patlanoaya Group, lasting through the rapid exhumation of the Piaxtla Suite at ∼ 350-340 Ma synchronous with cleavage development in the Las Minas unit, deposition of the Patlanoaya Group with active fault-related exhumation suggested by Mississippian and Early Permian conglomerates (∼ 340 and 300 Ma, respectively), and continuing at least into the Middle Permian (≡ 260 Ma muscovite ages). The continuity of Mid-Continent Mississippian fauna from the USA to southern Mexico suggests that this extensional deformation occurred on the western margin of Pangea after closure of the Rheic Ocean.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)60-76
    Number of pages17
    Issue number1-4
    Publication statusPublished - 25 Feb 2008


    • Acatlán Complex
    • Geochronology
    • Late Paleozoic
    • Mexico
    • Structure


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