From Back-arc Drifting to Arc Accretion: the Late Jurassic-Early Cretaceous Evolution of the Guerrero Terrane Recorded by a Major Provenance Change in Sandstones from the Sierra de los Cuarzos, Central Mexico
Abstract:The Guerrero terrane composed of Middle Jurassic-Early Cretaceous arc assemblages, were drifted from the North American continental mainland during lower Early Cretaceous spreading in the Arperos back arc basin, and subsequently accreted back to the continental margin in the late Aptian. Although the accretion of the Guerrero terrane represents one of the major tectonic processes that shaped the southern North American Pacific margin, the stratigraphic record related to such a regional event was not yet recognized in central Mexico. Due to the Sierra de los Cuarzos is located just 50 km east of the Guerrero terrane suture belt, its stratigraphic record should be highly sensitive to first order tectonic changes and would record a syn-tectonic deposits related to this major event.
In that study area, were identified two main Upper Jurassic-Lower Cretaceous clastic units. The Sierra de los Cuarzos formation represents the lowermost exposed stratigraphic record. Sedimentary structures, sandstones composition, and U-Pb detrital zircon ages document that the Sierra de los Cuarzos formation reflects a vigorous mass wasting along the margin of the North American continental mainland, representing the eastern side of the Arperos back arc basin. Sandstones of the Sierra de los Cuarzos formation are free from detrital contributions related to the Guerrero terrane juvenile sources, indicating that the Arperos Basin acted like an efficient sedimentological barrier that inhibited the influence of the arc massifs on the continental mainland deposits. The Sierra de los Cuarzos formation is overlain by submarine slope deposits of the Pelones formation, which mark a sudden change in the depositional conditions. Provenance analysis documents that sandstones from the Pelones formation were fed by the mafic to intermediate arc assemblages of the Guerrero terrane, as well as by quartz-rich sources of the continental mainland, suggesting that, by the time of deposition of the Pelones formation, the Arperos Basin was closed and the Guerrero terrane was juxtaposed to the continental domain. Based on these data, we interpret the Pelones formation as the record of the major crustal reorganization in central Mexico related to the inversion of the Arperos back arc basin and accretion of the Guerrero terrane to the continental mainland.