Neogene tectonostratigraphic historyof the southern Neuquén basin (39°–40°300S,Argentina): implications for foreland basin evolution
D. Huyghe, C. Bonnel, B. Nivière, B. Fasentieux and Y. Hervouët
Journal name: Basin Research
Issue: Vol 27, No 5, October 2015 pp. 613 - 635
Info: Article, PDF ( 9.41Mb )
Although the Neuquen basin in Argentina forms a key transitional domain between the south-central Andes and the Patagonian Andes, its Cenozoic history is poorly documented. We focus on the sedimentologic and tectonic evolution of the southern part of this basin, at 39–40°300S, based on study of 14 sedimentary sections. We provide evidence that this basin underwent alternating erosion and deposition of reworked volcaniclastic material in continental and fluvial settings during the Neogene. In particular, basement uplift of the Sa~nico Massif, due to Late Miocene–Pliocene intensification of tectonic activity, led to sediment partitioning in the basin. During this interval, sedimentation was restricted to the internal domain and the Collon Cura basin evolved towards an endorheic intermontane basin. From stratigraphic interpretation, this basin remained isolated 7–11 Myr. Nevertheless, ephemeral gateways seem to have existed, because we observe a thin succession downstream of the Sa~nico Massif contemporaneous with the Collon Cura basin-fill sequence. Comparisons of stratigraphic, paleoenvironmental and tectonic features of the southern Neuquen basin with other foreland basins of South America allow us to classify it as a broken foreland with the development of an intermontane basin from Late Miocene to Late Pliocene. This implies a thick-skinned structural style for this basin, with reactivation of basement faults responsible for exhumation of the Sa~nico Massif. Comparison of several broken forelands of South America allows us to propose two categories of intermontane basins according to their structural setting: subsiding or uplifted basins, which has strong implications on their excavation histories.