Volcanism in a compressional Andean setting: A structural and

Volcanism in a compressional Andean setting: A structural and
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TECTONICS, VOL. 26, TC4010, doi:10.1029/2006TC002011, 2007
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Volcanism in a compressional Andean setting: A structural and
geochronological study of Tromen volcano (Neuquén
province, Argentina)
Olivier Galland,1,2 Erwan Hallot,1 Peter R. Cobbold,1 Gilles Ruffet,1
and Jean de Bremond d’Ars1
Received 28 June 2006; revised 6 February 2007; accepted 16 March 2007; published 2 August 2007.
[1] We document evidence for growth of an active
volcano in a compressional Andean setting. Our data
are surface structures and 39Ar-40Ar ages of volcanic
products on Tromen volcano. Tromen is an active
back-arc volcano in the Andean foothills of Neuquén
province, Argentina. Its volcanic products are
unconformable upon Mesozoic strata of the Neuquén
basin. The volcano straddles a N-S trending pop-up,
which formed during E-W shortening. The main
underlying structures are eastward verging thrusts.
Their traces curve around the eastern foot of the
volcano. Minor folds and faults also occur in the
volcanic cover of Tromen, as a result of E-W
shortening. New 39Ar-40Ar ages for these volcanic
rocks are younger than 2.27 ± 0.10 Ma and show that
Tromen has been active almost continuously from the
late Pliocene to the Holocene. We conclude that
volcanism and thrusting have been coeval and that
magma must have reached the surface in a tectonic
setting of horizontal compression. Our results
have wider implications for magmatic processes in
such settings. Citation: Galland, O., E. Hallot, P. R. Cobbold,
G. Ruffet, and J. de Bremond d’Ars (2007), Volcanism in a
compressional Andean setting: A structural and geochronological
study of Tromen volcano (Neuquén province, Argentina),
Tectonics, 26, TC4010, doi:10.1029/2006TC002011.
1. Introduction
[2] Volcanic activity is especially common in areas of
extensional tectonics, and notably so at divergent plate
boundaries. In principle, such a setting should induce
vertical hydraulic fractures, along which magma rises directly through the upper crust, to the surface [Hubbert and
Willis, 1957; Sibson, 2003]. This is borne out by field
observations, for example, in the rift system of Iceland
[Gudmundsson, 1984; Helgason and Zentilli, 1985].
1
Géosciences Rennes, UMR 6118, CNRS, Université de Rennes 1,
Rennes, France.
2
Now at Physics of Geological Processes, Universitet i Oslo, Oslo,
Norway.
Copyright 2007 by the American Geophysical Union.
0278-7407/07/2006TC002011$12.00
[3] In contrast, a context of crustal thickening, where the
least principal stress is vertical, should impede the rise of
magma [Watanabe et al., 1999; Sibson, 2003] and produce
horizontal hydraulic fractures [Hubbert and Willis, 1957;
Sibson, 2003]. Under these conditions, some authors have
argued that volcanic activity is infrequent, if not absent
[Glazner, 1991; Hamilton, 1995]. Nevertheless, volcanism
and compressional tectonics are coeval in many places on
the Earth’s surface, for example in the Andes [Allmendinger
et al., 1997; Lamb et al., 1997], and in Japan [Townend and
Zoback, 2006].
[4] Because it is intuitive that extension provides room
for magma, it is sometimes assumed that such extension is a
necessity [Glazner, 1991; Hamilton, 1995]. For example, in
the Andes the volcanic arc has been interpreted as a result of
local extension [e.g., de Silva, 1989; Hamilton, 1995].
However, Andean volcanoes have been active in a regional
context of horizontal compression since 50 Ma or earlier
[Allmendinger et al., 1997; Lamb et al., 1997; Kendrick et
al., 1999; Kendrick et al., 2001; Hindle et al., 2002]. In
such a setting, how has magma risen to the surface? Have
the volcanic edifices been subject to shortening? What has
happened at depth?
[5] In the Andes, there have been many descriptions of
volcanoes in close proximity to faults. Strike-slip faults, and
lineaments that are transverse to the orogen, would appear
to be the most common [Marrett and Emerman, 1992;
Boudesseul, 1997; Matteini et al., 2002a, 2002b; Petrinovic
et al., 2006]. However, some Andean volcanoes are close to
thrust faults. A good example is El Reventador volcano in
Ecuador, which formed in a compressional or transpressional setting [Tibaldi, 2005]. Other examples along the
Andean Cordillera are Guagua Pichincha in Ecuador
[Legrand et al., 2002], Taapaca in Chile [Clavero et al.,
2004], Socompa in Chile [van Wyk de Vries et al., 2001],
and Tromen in Argentina [Kozlowski et al., 1996; Marques
and Cobbold, 2002, 2006; Galland et al., 2005]. In the main
volcanic arc of Neuquén province, Folguera et al. [2004]
have described thrusts and folds in basaltic lava flows of
Pleistocene age. However, the relationships of volcanoes to
nearby thrust faults remain enigmatic and insufficiently
explored.
[6] Elsewhere, there is evidence that some intrusions,
which formed at depth in a context of crustal thickening and
now at the surface as a result of exhumation (see review by
Hutton [1997]), have been associated with major thrust
faults. Good examples are the Boulder Batholith of Colo-
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rado [Kalakay et al., 2001; Lageson et al., 2001] and the
Idaho-Bitterroot Batholith in the United States [Foster et al.,
2001]. Could such associations be representative of what
happens at the roots of some Andean volcanoes?
[7] In this paper, we describe structural and geochronologic evidence that Tromen volcano formed during active
compression in an Andean back-arc context. Tromen volcano rises to 4000 m in a thick-skinned fold-and-thrust belt,
on the western margin of the Neuquén basin, Argentina
(Figure 1). Its volcanic products are unconformable upon
Mesozoic strata. The major eastward verging Tromen
thrust dips beneath the volcano and bends around its base
(Figure 2) [Kozlowski et al., 1996; Marques and Cobbold,
2002]. We describe the relationships between the volcanic
products of Tromen and the tectonic structures beneath or
within it. To constrain the timing of volcanic and tectonic
events, we have obtained new 39Ar-40Ar ages on the
volcanic rocks. On the basis of our results, we discuss
possible processes governing the rise of magma and the
eruptions of Tromen during horizontal compression.
2. Geological Setting
[8] The Neuquén basin lies in NW Patagonia, to the east
of the Andean Cordillera (Figure 1). It contains up to
5000 meters of Mesozoic strata. Synrift sediments of the
Pre-Cuyo group and organic-rich mudstone of the Los
Molles formation accumulated during a phase of late
Triassic to early Jurassic extension that heralded the breakup of Gondwana (Figure 2c) [Vergani et al., 1995; Franzese
and Spalletti, 2001; Franzese et al., 2003]. Jurassic and
Early Cretaceous strata marked a phase of postrift subsidence on the Pacific margin. The Jurassic Lotena formation
is mainly of detrital origin, but includes some carbonates
(La Manga member). After the evaporitic Auquilco formation came sandstone of the Tordillo formation. The late
Jurassic saw a second accumulation of organic-rich mudstone (Vaca Muerta formation). After another sandstone
interval (Mulinchinco formation) came a third thickness of
organic-rich mudstone (Agrio formation). The evaporitic
Huitrı́n formation then marked the end of marine conditions.
The mudstones of the Los Molles, Vaca Muerta and Agrio
formations are the main source rocks for hydrocarbons in
the Neuquén Basin. During the Late Cretaceous, continental
red beds (Neuquén Group) accumulated regionally in a
foreland setting [Cobbold and Rossello, 2003]. During the
Cenozoic, continental sediment and volcanic rocks accumulated here and there within the basin.
[9] Several periods of tectonic inversion have been recognized in the Neuquén basin. They correlate with the
Peruvian, Incaic, and Quechua phases of Andean orogeny
[Groeber, 1929; Cobbold and Rossello, 2002, 2003]. The
Peruvian phase (Aptian to Campanian) was responsible for
E-W shortening and resulted in folds and thrusts, trending
N-S, including the Andacollo-Loncopué Fault System
(Figure 1). This first phase also resulted in a regional
unconformity between the Agrio and Huitrı́n formations.
The foreland basin then filled with continental sediment up
to 2500 m thick. During the Incaic phase (Eocene), oblique
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convergence at the Pacific margin led to right-lateral transpression and strike-slip faulting [Cobbold and Rossello,
2003]. It also may have resulted in the emplacement of a
swarm of NE trending bitumen dikes [Cobbold et al., 1999].
Some authors argue that the Incaic phase was followed by
an extensional phase of Oligocene to early Miocene age
[Jordan et al., 2001; Folguera et al., 2002], but Cobbold
and Rossello [2002, 2003] have discussed evidence for
compression during these periods. The Quechua phase
(Neogene) resulted from more frontal convergence at the
Pacific margin. It reactivated previous structures, and
formed new ones (such as the Tromen thrust, Figure 1
[Kozlowski et al., 1996; Cobbold and Rossello, 2003]). The
Incaic and Quechua phases were both contemporaneous
with periods of rapid convergence at the Pacific margin of
South America [Pardo-Casas and Molnar, 1987; Somoza,
1998; Cobbold and Rossello, 2003].
[10] Because Neogene deposits are scarce, it is not clear
how long compressional deformation has lasted. According
to Kozlowski et al. [1996] and Folguera et al. [2002], it
ended before 12 Ma. More recently, Folguera et al. [2005,
2006], Ramos and Folguera [2005], Kay et al. [2006a] have
argued that compressional deformation stopped during the
early Pliocene, and that active tectonics is extensional.
However, GPS measurements [Klotz et al., 2001], in situ
stress measurements [Guzmán et al., 2005], and structural
and geomorphological data [Cobbold and Rossello, 2002,
2003; Folguera et al., 2004, 2005; Galland, 2005; Galland
et al., 2005] provide evidence for current horizontal
compression.
[11] In Neuquén province, the cordillera and its foreland
have a long history of magmatic activity. During the
Eocene, a thick pile of andesite lava flows accumulated to
the west of the Andacollo-Loncopué Fault System (Figure 1)
[Jordan et al., 2001], and shallow level intrusions were
emplaced in the Agrio fold belt [Llambı́as and Rapela,
1988; Cobbold and Rossello, 2003]. During the Oligocene
and Miocene, the magmatic arc migrated eastward [Vergara
and Munizaga, 1974; Suarez and Emparan, 1995; Muñoz et
al., 2000]. To the north of the Cortaderas fault zone
(Figure 1), magmatic activity with an arc geochemical
signature reached as far as 500 km east of the trench [Kay
et al., 2006b; Kay and Copeland, 2006]. It accounted for
1000 m of basaltic lava flows in the Huantraico syncline,
200 km east of the frontal volcanic arc (Figure 1) [Ramos
and Barbieri, 1988; Kay and Copeland, 2006], and early
activity of Chachahuén volcano (Figure 1) [Kay et al.,
2006a, 2006b]. Then, during the Pliocene and Holocene,
magmatism with an arc geochemical signature migrated
westward and concentrated close to the modern volcanic
front [Vergara and Munizaga, 1974; Hickey et al., 1986;
Folguera et al., 2002]. However, east of the main arc, large
shield-like volcanoes, such as Auca Mahuida, Payun Matru
and Tromen (Figure 1), have back-arc (intraplate-like)
geochemical signatures [Llambı́as et al., 1982; Saal et al.,
1993; Kay et al., 2006a].
[12] Although Tromen is a back-arc volcano, it is close to
the current magmatic arc (Figure 1). At 3969 m, the summit
of Tromen dominates the western Neuquén basin. Its main
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Figure 1. Geological map of Neuquén basin, northwestern Neuquén province (modified after Cobbold
and Rossello [2003]). Map shows main groups of sedimentary and magmatic rocks, major tectonic
structures, and principal volcanoes (white triangles). FS denotes fault system. Box indicates area around
Tromen volcano (Figure 2). Inset shows large-scale tectonic setting, current velocity vectors for Nazca
plate relative to South America (numbers in cm/yr), and principal volcanoes of the Andes (white
triangles).
period of activity spanned the Pleistocene and Holocene
[Zollner and Amos, 1973; Holmberg, 1975; Llambı́as et al.,
1982]. However, there are strong indications that Tromen
has continued to be active in very recent, and even historical
times. Its northern crater is well preserved and contains
deposits of sulphur [Zollner and Amos, 1973]. The uppermost basaltic lava flows, which erupted from it, have fresh
blocky surfaces that are free of vegetation. A historical
eruption in 1822 has been reported [Simkin and Siebert,
1994], although we have no independent evidence for it.
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Figure 2. (a) Geological map of Tromen volcano (modified after Zollner and Amos [1973] and
Holmberg [1975]). Boxes indicate areas of more detailed study (Figures 3b, 3c, and 5). For E-W cross
section of volcano, see Figure 15. (b) Map of volcano-sedimentary formations of Tromen area. Red
circles and associated numbers refer to samples for dating (Table 1) and ages obtained. (c) Stratigraphic
column and map legend.
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Figure 2. (continued)
Between 1751 and 1752, a Jesuit priest, Bernardo Havestadt, went near the twin peaks of Tromen volcano and
wrote, ‘‘the smoke that they sometimes throw out is so
thick, black, and abundant, that, even at noon, it darkens the
place, and transforms the day into night’’ (our translation
from the Spanish [Havestadt, 1752]).
[13] The volcanic products of Tromen are unconformable
upon a deformed Mesozoic substrate (Figure 2) [Zollner
and Amos, 1973; Llambı́as et al., 1982]. The main structure
close to the volcano is the Tromen thrust (Figure 2a)
[Holmberg, 1975; Kozlowski et al., 1996].
3. Products of Tromen
[14] We describe the main products of Tromen, and the
petrological features of the volcanic rocks that we sampled
for 39Ar-40Ar dating.
[15] At the surface, the most voluminous products of Tromen are basaltic lava flows (Basalto formations, Figure 2
[Zollner and Amos, 1973; Holmberg, 1975; Llambı́as et al.,
1982]). However, andesitic to rhyolitic lavas and domes are
dominant in some places (Pleistocene Tilhué formation,
Figure 2 [Zollner and Amos, 1973; Holmberg, 1975]). An
early geochemical analysis of Tromen lavas yielded a calcalkaline signature [Llambı́as et al., 1982]. Later studies
indicated that the Tromen lavas differ from those of the
main volcanic arc: they are more alkaline and have intraplate-like signatures, like the lavas of other back-arc volcanoes in the area [Stern et al., 1990; Saal et al., 1993; Kay et
al., 2006a].
[16] There are also several deposits of conglomerate on
Tromen (Pichichacaico, Huecú, and Agua Carmonina formations, Figure 2). Mostly they contain pebbles or blocks of
volcanic material.
[17] Although Miocene to Pliocene basalts (Basalto I and
Basalto II formations [Zollner and Amos, 1973; Holmberg,
1975]) crop out in the general area (Figure 2), there is no
direct evidence that they erupted from Tromen. In fact, the
Basalto I formation, which extends as much as 100 km to
the east of Tromen, appears to be older [Groeber, 1929]. In
the Tromen area, the Basalto 1 formation appears to derive
from a partly eroded volcanic center to the south of the
Huantraico syncline (Figure 1) [Holmberg, 1975; Ramos
and Barbieri, 1988]. Thus we shall consider neither of these
formations any further.
3.1. Domes of Andesite, Dacite, or Rhyolite
[18] Traditionally, the andesite, dacite and rhyolite of
Tromen have been assigned to the Tilhué formation
[Groeber, 1929; Zollner and Amos, 1973; Holmberg,
1975]. These rocks crop out at (1) Cerro Tilhué in the
south, (2) Cerro Bayo in the east, and (3) El Paso, a central
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Figure 3. Domes of the Tilhué formation. (a) Photograph and line drawing of Cerro Bayo, eastern flank
of Tromen (box, Figure 2a). Large andesite dome is unconformable upon Vaca Muerta formation,
conglomerate, and intercalated andesite lava flows. Flow banding (photograph, right) is continuous
around dome. (b) Satellite image of Cerro Tilhué. Subcircular volcanic domes lie along E-W lineament.
(c) Satellite image of Cerro Bayo. Volcanic domes lie along another E-W lineament.
pass between the western and eastern flanks of the volcano
(Figures 2 and 3). In the field, these rocks form massive
domes, 100 to 300 m thick, which are unconformable upon
the Mesozoic substrate. The domes have a marked internal
flow banding, which is continuous around them, despite
strong dip variations (Figure 3a). We interpret these domes
to be extrusive. Although they were originally described as
extrusive [Groeber, 1929; Zollner and Amos, 1973;
Holmberg, 1975], the map legend from Zollner and Amos
[1973] has them as intrusive bodies, presumably by mistake.
[19] At Cerro Tilhué, several andesite domes lie along an
E-W lineament (Figure 3b). In thin section (samples TIL02,
TIL03, TIL06, TIL07; Table 1), the texture is porphyritic,
vesicular, and holohyaline to spherulitic (Figure 4a). Phenocrysts are 3 to 5 mm long, and account for 10 to 30 vol %
of the rock. They consist mostly of plagioclase (An20 – 30,
oligoclase), clinopyroxene, oxyhornblende and biotite, the
latter two being rimmed by opaque minerals.
[20] At Cerro Bayo, the Tilhué formation is composite.
The oldest rocks are two conglomeratic beds, overlain by
two flow units of andesite lava, 50 m thick (Arroyo
Chacaico valley; Figure 3a; see also cross section B-B0 in
Figure 13 in section 5.2). Unconformable upon them are
domes of andesite, dacite or rhyolite, 200– 300 m thick. The
andesite lava flows have a porphyritic to glomeroporphyritic texture (samples CB03-11 and CB03-12). Phenocrysts
(20 to 40 vol %), in a microlitic mesostasis, are mostly of
plagioclase (An45, up to several cm in length), rich in
inclusions. A few phenocrysts are of clinopyroxene. The
two main domes, including Cerro Bayo, lie along an E-W
lineament (Figure 3c). The texture is porphyritic, banded
and vesicular. Phenocrysts, up to 5 mm long, are in a
holohyaline to spherulitic groundmass (Figure 4b). In the
andesite domes (samples CB03-01, CB03-04 and CB03-14;
Table 1), the phenocryst content is 20 to 40 vol %; the main
phase is plagioclase (An20 – 30), with minor oxyhornblende
and biotite, both rimmed by opaque minerals. In the dacites
and rhyolites (samples CB03-05, CB03-06 and CB03-13;
Table 1), the phenocryst content is 5 to 10 vol %. They are
mainly of plagioclase (An25) and alkali feldspar (sanidine or
anorthoclase).
[21] At El Paso, andesitic to rhyodacitic domes are
unconformable upon Mesozoic strata. Several domes are
overlain by younger flows of basaltic lava. The texture of
the rocks (samples ABL05, ABL08 and ABL03-03; Table 1)
is porphyritic to glomeroporphyritic, mostly vesicular and
banded. The groundmass is holohyaline, sometimes finegrained (Figure 4c). Phenocrysts (15 to 40 vol %, up to 5 mm
long) are mostly of plagioclase (An25 – 50), with minor clinopyroxene, oxyhornblende and biotite.
6 of 24
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Cerro
Cerro
Cerro
Cerro
Cerro
Cerro
Cerro
Bayo
Tilhué
Tilhué
Tilhué
Tilhué
Tilhué
Tilhué
Vega de la Totora
Vega de la Totora
Los Barros
Arroyo Blanco
Los Barros
Los Barros
Chihuido de Tril
Cerro Bayo
Vega de la Totora
Las Yeseras
Arroyo Blanco
Arroyo Blanco
Arroyo Blanco
Arroyo Blanco
El Paso
El Paso
El Paso
El Paso
Cerro Bayo
Cerro Bayo
Cerro Bayo
Cerro Bayo
Cerro Bayo
Cerro Bayo
Cerro Bayo
Locality
Holmberg
Zollner and
Zollner and
Zollner and
Zollner and
Zollner and
Zollner and
Holmberg
Holmberg
Zollner and
Zollner and
Zollner and
Zollner and
Holmberg
Holmberg
Holmberg
Holmberg
Zollner and
Zollner and
Zollner and
Zollner and
Zollner and
Zollner and
Zollner and
Zollner and
Holmberg
Holmberg
Holmberg
Holmberg
Holmberg
Holmberg
Holmberg
Map
Amos
Amos
Amos
Amos
Amos
Amos
Amos
Amos
Amos
Amos
Amos
Amos
Amos
Amos
Amos
Amos
Amos
Amos
CB03-12
TIL03
TIL04
TIL02
TIL06
TIL07
CM05-01
TR01
TR02
LB03
ABL03-01
LB01
LB02
CT05-01
CB03-10
TR03
YS03-02
ABL04
ABL07
ABL03-09
ABL06
ABL08
ABL05
ABL05
ABL03-03
CB03-01
CB03-04
CB03-05
CB03-06
CB03-13
CB03-14
CB03-11
Sample
Latitude, deg
37.227
37.227
37.128
37.225
37.144
37.106
37.223
37.154
37.229
37.201
37.209
37.190
37.200
37.198
37.184
37.209
37.209
37.203
37.164
37.166
37.151
37.152
37.149
37.142
37.164
37.160
37.306
37.306
37.309
37.302
37.310
37.307
Longitude, deg
69.924
69.924
70.135
70.138
70.152
70.161
69.771
69.943
69.916
69.888
70.065
70.058
70.076
70.061
70.053
70.065
70.065
70.057
69.937
69.943
69.934
69.941
69.934
69.947
69.966
69.963
70.122
70.122
70.126
70.124
70.114
70.202
2208
2156
2156
2031
>2200
2080
1328
2062
2118
1432
1989
1865
1680
2608
2900
2310
2807
3142
2608
2608
2641
2168
2280
1812
1901
1888
2058
2191
1600
1600
2131
Altitude, m
WR
Bt
WR
Bt
Bt
Bt
Obsidian
WR
WR
WR
WR
WR
WR
WR
WR
WR
WR
WR
WR
WR
WR
WR
Bt
Bt
WR
Bt
Bt
WR
WR
Bt
Bt
WR
Type/Mineral
1.83 ± 0.06 (PA 1s)
2.05 ± 0.19 (PA 1s)
1.00 ± 0.15 (PA 1s)
2.02 ± 0.06 (PA 2s)
1.31 ± 0.07 (PA 1s)
1.31 ± 0.12 (PA 1s)
1.86 ± 0.23 (PA 1s)
0.04 ± 0.04 (PA 1s)
1.82 ± 0.04 (PA 2s)
1.77 ± 0.06 (PA 1s)
2.00 ± 0.08 (PA 1s)
2.05 ± 0.05 (PA 1s)
1.62 ± 0.16 (PA 1s)
2.16 ± 0.24 (PA 1s)
0.75 ± 0.05 (PA 1s)
2.03 ± 0.26 (PA 1s)
2.10 ± 0.13 (PA 1s)
2.27 ± 0.10 (PA 2s)
0.91 ± 0.04 (PA 1s)
1.11 ± 0.07 (PA 1s)
2.00 ± 0.06 (PA 1s)
1.10 ± 0.06 (PA 1s)
1.21 ± 0.16 (PA 1s)
0.85 ± 0.09 (PA 1s)
1.92 ± 0.01
(Pseudo-PA 2s)
1.74 ± 0.02 (PA 2s)
0.83 ± 0.04 (PA 1s)
0.88 ± 0.15 (PA 1s)
2.03 ± 0.34 (PA 1s)
0.83 ± 0.04 (PA 1s)
1.45 ± 0.25 (PA 1s)
1.96 ± 0.06 (PA 1s)
Age, Ma
Formation names are after Zollner and Amos [1973] or Holmberg [1975]. Material dated is whole rock (WR), biotite (Bt), or obsidian fragment. 39Ar-40Ar ages (in Ma) include mean, standard deviation (s)
and information on quality. Plateau ages (PA) have been calculated at 1s or 2s level, according to quality of analysis. Pseudoplateau ages (Ps-PA) are for less than 70% of 39ArK degassing. All errors are
displayed at the 1s level.
a
Tilhué
Tilhué (pyroclastic)
Tilhué (pyroclastic)
Tilhué
Tilhué
Tilhué
Tilhué (pyroclastic)
Andesite flow
Andesite block
Microdiorite block
Andesite dome
Andesite dome
Andesite dome
Ignimbrite flow
Geological Formation
Ar-40Ar Ages of Samples From Tromena
Pichichacaico
Pichichacaico
Basalto V
Basalto V
Basalto III
Basalto III
Basalto III
Basalto V
Basalto IV
Basalto IV
Intrusive bodies
Intrusive bodies
Intrusive bodies
Intrusive bodies
Tilhué
Tilhué
Tilhué
Tilhué
Tilhué
Tilhué
Tilhué
Tilhué
Tilhué
Tilhué
Tilhué
39
Basalt-andesite pebble
Basalt-andesite pebble
Basalt flow
Basalt flow
Basalt flow
Basalt flow
Dolerite neck
Olivine basalt flow
Andesite flow
Basalt flow
Basalt dike
Basalt-andesite dike
Basalt-andesite dike
Andesite sill
Andesite dome
Rhyo-dacite dome
Rhyo-dacite dome
Andesite dome
Andesite dome
Andesite dome
Dacite dome
Dacite dome
Rhyo-dacite dome
Andesite dome
Andesite flow
Rock type
Table 1. The
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Figure 4. Representative thin sections of volcanic rocks from Tromen (PPL). Labeled minerals are
plagioclase feldspar (Fp), oxyhornblende (Hb), biotite (Bt), clinopyroxene (Cpx), and olivine (Ol).
(a) Sample TIL01, Tilhué formation, Cerro Tilhué. Notice spherulitic matrix. (b) Sample CB03-14,
Tilhué formation, Cerro Bayo. Notice spherulitic texture. (c) Sample ABL05, Tilhué formation, El Paso.
(d) Sample ABL07, E-W dike. (e) Sample LB03, Basalto V formation. (f) Sample TR02, pebble within
conglomerate of Pichichacaico formation.
3.2. Pyroclastic Deposits
[22] Pyroclastic deposits, including ignimbrites, have
been reported on the western flank of Tromen [Zollner
and Amos, 1973]. The ignimbrites contain white lapilli of
pumice and obsidian fragments. They crop out widely along
the Arroyo Chapúa and lower Arroyo Blanco (Figure 2). In
the upper Arroyo Blanco, they fill paleovalleys in Mesozoic
strata (outcrop I1, Figure 5). Later paleovalleys, cutting into
the same ignimbrite, contain thick conglomerate. According
to Zollner and Amos [1973], the pyroclastic deposits correlate with the felsic domes of the Tilhué formation. This is
also consistent with the geochemical compositions of the
rocks [Kay et al., 2006a]. However, we were not able to
establish any continuity or correlation between them. The
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Figure 5. (a) Detailed geological map of Arroyo Blanco valley. Notice outcropping cliffs of ignimbrite
(not visible in Figure 2) and E-W dikes in upper reaches of valley. White boxes locate Figures 10 and 11.
Dashed traces (E1, E2, and E3) indicate topographic escarpments (see also Figure 8). Outcrop I1 is of
pyroclastic deposits (Figure 9). (b) Rose diagram for strikes of 17 dikes in upper reaches of Arroyo
Blanco. Mean strike is almost E-W.
source of the ignimbrites is not clear. They could have come
from Tromen, or from other volcanic centers in the general
area. For example, Payun Matru to the north (Figure 1)
[Dessanti, 1973, 1975] has emitted large amounts of pyroclastic material over distances of several hundred kilometers. Nevertheless, for dating, an obsidian pyroclast
was selected (sample CM05-01, Table 1).
[23] Direct field evidence for volcanic explosions in the
Tilhué formation is relatively rare. At Cerro Tilhué, small
outcrops of pyroclastic material are close to the andesite
domes. The deposits contain both lithic and andesitic fragments, up to 10 cm wide, within an ashy andesitic matrix.
Some of the lithic fragments are rich in oxyhornblende and
plagioclase and have a fine-grained texture (sample TIL04;
Table 1). Near the domes of Cerro Bayo, some andesite
flows are strongly banded breccias. Layers of andesite, a
few centimeters thick and containing plagioclase phenoclasts in a holohyaline groundmass, alternate with discontinuous ashy layers. We take this association as evidence for
partly explosive activity.
3.3. Sills and Dikes
[24] Immediately to the east of the Tromen thrust, an E-W
dike, about 1 m wide, links four volcanic necks, three small
ones and one large one (Chihuido de Tril; Figure 2). Zollner
and Amos [1973] and Holmberg [1975] included these
rocks in the Basalto III formation. The smaller necks have
annular rims, containing flattened and vertically stretched
vesicles, as well as radial polygonal jointing. The large neck
now forms an eroded pinnacle, about 50 m wide and
reaching a height of 1432 m. The core is of dolerite. In
thin section (sample CT05-01, Table 1) it contains rare
phenocrysts of zoned plagioclase (An50 – 60), olivine, or
clinopyroxene, up to 2 mm in size. The groundmass is a
network of plagioclase laths (up to 1 mm long and 0.25 mm
wide), between microcrysts of euhedral olivine (partly
replaced by clays) and clinopyroxene. Opaque minerals
and acicular apatite are the main accessory phases. The
nonequant minerals form a strong linear fabric, which is
vertical, presumably as a result of extrusion. The annular
rim of the Chihuido de Tril is finer grained and displays
flow banding, a strong vertical lineation, radial polygonal
cooling joints, and a few radial dikes. Adhering to the sides
of the eroded neck are remnants of metamorphosed Mesozoic strata (Agrio, Huitrı́n and Rayoso formations).
[25] As mentioned by Groeber [1929], sills and subvertical dikes crop out in the eroded center and western flank of
Tromen (upper Arroyo Blanco valley; Figure 5). Andesite
sills (sample ABL06; Table 1) are parallel to folded Mesozoic strata (Mulichinco and Vaca Muerta formations). The
texture is holohyaline and porphyritic. Phenocrysts (30 vol %)
are mostly of plagioclase (An25), or of altered hornblende or
biotite. Dikes up to 20 m thick strike almost E-W (Figure 5).
They crosscut andesite sills, Mesozoic strata, and andesite
domes of the Tilhué formation (Figure 5a). Late conglomerate is unconformable upon the eroded dikes and the
ignimbrites. The dikes consist of andesite (samples
ABL04, ABL07 and ABL03-09; Table 1). The texture is
porphyritic, locally banded. The groundmass is microlitic
(Figure 4d), locally holohyaline or spherulitic. Phenocrysts,
up to 5 mm long, are of plagioclase (An40 – 50) or altered
clinopyroxene.
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3.4. Basaltic Lava Flows
[26] Stacked lava flows of basalt or basaltic andesite form
a cover to the entire edifice (Figure 2) [Zollner and Amos,
1973; Holmberg, 1975]. The thickness of each flow is no
more than a few meters and surprisingly uniform over large
distances. Seven basaltic lava flows were selected for dating
(see Table 1). The texture is porphyritic, coarsely vesicular,
and banded. The groundmass is microlitic to trachytic
(Figure 4e). Phenocrysts (less than 20 vol %) are 5 to
8 mm long. They are mostly of plagioclase (An40 – 70) or
olivine, with minor clinopyroxene.
[27] Zollner and Amos [1973] and Holmberg [1975]
grouped the basalts into various formations, according to
field relationships. The oldest (Basalto III, Pleistocene) is
mostly on the northern and western flanks of the volcano
(Los Barros and Cerro Wayle areas), and locally crops out
on the eastern flank (Los Chihuidos de Tril; Figure 2). The
Basalto IV formation crops out locally on the northern and
eastern flanks. Forming the main cones of Tromen, Cerro
Negro del Tromen and Cerro Wayle are flows of the Basalto
V formation. They overlie andesite domes of the Tilhué
formation (Figure 5) and some eroded E-W dikes (in the
upper Arroyo Blanco valley). Near the summit of Tromen
are Holocene basalts and basaltic andesites of the Basalto
VI and Basalto VII formations [Llambı́as et al., 1982].
[28] The basalts appear to be very homogeneous, both in
the field and under the microscope. From petrological
features alone, it is difficult to assign any one sample to a
given formation. Also it is difficult to correlate the formations on the basis of field relationships.
3.5. Conglomerate
[29] On the eastern flank of Tromen, conglomerate of the
Pichichacaico formation crops out at altitudes of 1500 to
1900 m, over a distance of about 20 km (Figure 2).
Holmberg [1975] considered it to be Pleistocene (older than
the Basalto III formation, but younger than the Tilhué
formation). It contains rounded pebbles, about 10 cm in
diameter, and angular fragments, mostly of basaltic andesite
[Holmberg, 1975]. The matrix is a sand of the same
composition. The pebbles are of two distinct kinds, according to phenocryst length (5 mm for TR01; 2 mm for TR02;
Table 1). Both have a porphyritic vesicular texture, a
microlitic groundmass (Figure 4f) and phenocrysts of
plagioclase (An30 – 40) and clinopyroxene. In the field,
conglomerate of the Pichichacaico formation appears to
be overlain by lava flows of the Basalto IV formation
(Figure 2a).
[30] Also on the eastern flank of Tromen, the Agua
Carmonina formation is a conglomerate, containing upper
layers of ash and travertine, whereas the Arroyo Huecú
formation is a conglomerate only. All contain rounded
pebbles, from 10 cm to 1 m in diameter, basaltic sand and
lapilli [Holmberg, 1975]. Because of their greater variety of
pebbles, the Agua Carmonina and Arroyo Huecú formations
are thought to be younger than the Pichichacaico formation
(Figure 2) [Holmberg, 1975].
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[31] On the eastern flank of the volcano, another conglomerate, a few meters thick, has an upper crust of calcrete
(‘‘tosca’’) and is unconformable upon underlying strata
[Holmberg, 1975]. It contains rounded blocks of basalt
and andesite, up to 50 cm wide. We were not able to
correlate this material with any other conglomerate in the
area.
[32] On the western flank of Tromen (Arroyo Blanco), a
thick conglomerate fills paleovalleys in underlying ignimbrite. It contains pebbles of basalt and andesite, up to a few
tens of cm wide. In the lower part of the valley, the
conglomerate rests directly on Mesozoic strata. It also
covers andesite domes (El Paso) and E-W dikes. Apparently
overlying it are lava flows of the Basalto V formation. We
cannot correlate this conglomerate with the one on the
eastern flank of the volcano.
[33] Zollner and Amos [1973] suggested that some, if not
all, of these conglomeratic deposits formed during periods
of Pleistocene glaciation. Indeed some of the main valleys
on Tromen appear to be of glacial origin.
4. New
39
Ar-40Ar Ages
4.1. Sampling
[34] Thirty-one samples, from the main volcanic formations or from blocks in conglomerate, were selected for
dating (Table 1).
[35] The samples were mainly from lava flows, volcanic
domes and dikes. Exceptions were (1) a fine-grained lithic
block (TIL04) from a pyroclastic deposit near one of the
domes of Cerro Tilhué (see ‘‘Products of Tromen’’), (2) an
obsidian fragment from an ignimbrite (CM05-01) and (3)
two volcanic blocks from conglomerate of the Pichichacaico formation (TR01 and TR02; Table 1). Weathered and
hydrothermally altered rocks were discarded. We did not
sample the youngest basaltic lava flows (Basalto VI and
Basalto VII formations) or the oldest ones (Basalto I and II,
which did not obviously erupt from Tromen).
4.2. Analytical Procedure
analyzed with an 39Ar-40Ar laser
[36] Samples were
1
probe (CO2 Synrad ). The analyses were mostly on single
whole rock fragments of basalt or andesite (Table 1). Others
were on biotite from andesites, dacites and rhyolites and an
obsidian pyroclast from the ignimbrite.
[37] Whole rock fragments and minerals were carefully
handpicked under a binocular microscope from crushed
rocks (0.3 – 2 mm fraction). The samples were wrapped in
A1 foil to form packets (11 mm 11 mm 0.5 mm). These
packets were stacked up to form a pile, within which
packets of flux monitors were inserted every 8 to 10 samples.
The stack, put in an irradiation can, was irradiated for
5 hours at the McMaster reactor (Hamilton, Canada) with
a total flux of 6.4 1017 radioactive shocks per square
centimeter. The irradiation standard was the Alder Creek
Rhyolite sanidine, ACs-2 (1.194 Ma according to Renne et
al. [1998]). The sample arrangement allowed us to monitor
the flux gradient with a precision of ±0.2%.
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Figure 6
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[38] The step-heating experimental procedure has been
described in detail [Ruffet et al., 1991, 1995]. Blanks are
performed routinely each first or third run, and are subtracted from the subsequent 1sample gas fractions. Analyses
are performed on a Map215 mass spectrometer.
[39] To define a plateau age (PA), a minimum of three
consecutive steps are required, corresponding to a minimum
of 70% of the total 39ArK released, and the individual
fraction ages should agree to within 1s or 2s with the
integrated age of the plateau segment. Plateau ages (PA)
have been calculated at 1s or 2s level, according to quality
of analysis (see Table 1). A pseudoplateau age, with less
than 70% of 39ArK released, was defined for one sample
(CB03-11; Table 1 and Figure 6). The 39Ar-40Ar results in
Table 1 are displayed at the 1s level and the plateau ages are
shown at the 1s level (Figures 6 and 7).
4.3. Results
[40] All ages except one are plateau ages (Table 1 and
Figure 6). Sample CB03-11 gave a pseudoplateau with less
than 70% of 39ArK released. Oldest (2.27 ± 0.10 Ma, Table 1)
was an andesite from the domes at El Paso.
[41] The ages of the andesite domes (Tilhué formation)
range from 2.27 ± 0.10 Ma to 0.75 ± 0.05 Ma (Table 1 and
Figure 7) and form two groups: an early one, ranging from
about 2.27 ± 0.10 Ma to 1.74 ± 0.02 Ma, and a later one,
ranging from about 1.45 ± 0.25 Ma to 0.75 ± 0.05 Ma
(Figure 7). The early group includes most of the domes at
El Paso (ABL05, ABL03-03), a few domes (CB03-05) and
underlying andesite lava flows (CB03-11 and CB03-12) at
Cerro Bayo, and one dome at Cerro Tilhué (TIL02). The
later group includes most of the domes at Cerro Tilhué and
Cerro Bayo, and one dome at El Paso (ABL08; Table 1,
Figure 7).
[42] Among the pyroclastic deposits, the ignimbrite (sample CM05-01) gave an age of 1.96 ± 0.06 Ma. From Cerro
Tilhué, one of the samples (TIL04) is a fine-grained lithic
block from a pyroclastic deposit. It gave a relatively young
age (0.88 ± 0.15 Ma; Table 1). It may have originated in a
shallow level intrusive body, subcontemporaneous with
volcanic domes at Cerro Tilhué, but it does not correlate
with any surface lavas.
[43] The age of the large volcanic neck east of Tromen
(Chihuido de Tril) is 1.86 ± 0.23 Ma. The measured age of
the andesite sills in the Arroyo Blanco is 2.16 ± 0.24 Ma
(ABL06; Table 1). These sills are crosscut by E-W dikes,
which indeed are contemporaneous to younger (2.05 ±
0.05 Ma to 1.62 ± 0.16 Ma; Table 1; Figure 7).
[44] The ages for the basalt flows range from 2.02 ± 0.06 Ma
to 0.04 ± 0.04 Ma. Those for the Basalto III formation
cluster around 1.3 Ma (Table 1). For the Basalto IV
formation, which is supposedly younger, the ages are in
fact older (1.82 ± 0.04 Ma for TR03 and 1.77 ± 0.06 Ma for
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YS03-02; Table 1). Finally, the ages for the Basalto V
formation range from 2.02 ± 0.06 Ma (ABL03-01; Table 1)
to 0.04 ± 0.04 Ma (CB03-10; Table 1). Because the samples
of Basalto III and Basalto IV were from geographically
restricted areas (around Los Barros and Las Yeseras, respectively), it is not surprising that their ages cluster. In
contrast, samples of the Basalto V formation came from
more widespread areas (see Table 1), and this probably
explains the wider range of ages. Although the error range
on sample CB03-10 is large (0.04 ± 0.04 Ma), this analysis
unambiguously indicates that the sampled lava flow is very
young. As far as we know, this age is the youngest obtained
for Tromen lava. It is consistent with our geological
observations. In the field, the lava flow overlies the Tilhué
formation, but its outcrop area is too small to be visible at
the scale of our map (Figure 2a).
[45] The two kinds of pebbles from conglomerate of the
Pichichacaico formation gave ages of 2.05 ± 0.19 (TR02)
and 1.83 ± 0.06 Ma (TR01; Table 1).
4.4. Stratigraphic Implications
[46] The oldest rocks that we dated on Tromen were
andesitic to dacitic domes of the Tilhué formation, especially at El Paso (2.27 ± 0.10 Ma). Some early andesitic
domes also formed at Cerro Tilhué and Cerro Bayo (Table 1
and Figure 7). However, in general our ages show that the
Tilhué formation is strongly diachronous, spanning the
period between 2.27 ± 0.10 Ma and 0.75 ± 0.05 Ma. Kay
et al. [2006a, p. 53, sample TDR-16] obtained an Ar/Ar age
of 4.0 ± 0.4 Ma on biotite from a Cerro Bayo rhyolite. The
age spectrum is typical of chloritized biotite, so that the
calculated plateau age (4.0 ± 0.4 Ma) may overestimate
the true age of the mineral (as by Cheilletz et al. [1999]).
Nevertheless, the result could indicate that activity on Tromen started before 2.27 Ma.
[47] At El Paso, Cerro Tilhué, and Cerro Bayo, the
youngest domes are younger than most of the basalt flows,
whereas the oldest are contemporaneous with the E-W
dikes, the pebbles within the Pichichacaico conglomerate,
and the early lava flows (Table 1 and Figure 7). Thus, in
contrast to Zollner and Amos [1973] and Holmberg [1975],
we argue that silica-rich products were not restricted to the
early stages of activity on Tromen. In addition the age of
the ignimbrite at 1.96 ± 0.06 Ma, similar to those of some of
the domes, indicates that some ignimbrites covering the area
might result from Tromen, as suggested also by Kay et al.
[2006a].
[48] Our ages also indicate that the domes of the Tilhué
formation extruded sequentially (Table 1). At El Paso, early
domes lie upon Mesozoic strata at 2600 m, whereas a later
one is near the top of the volcano at about 3150 m. At Cerro
Bayo, early domes are at the bottom of the Arroyo Chacaico
(Figure 3) at about 1800 m, whereas a later group is
Figure 6. The 39Ar-40Ar age spectra of 31 samples of volcanic rocks from Tromen. The error bars for each temperature
step are at the 1s level and do not include errors in the J values. The errors in the J values are included in the plateau age
calculations.
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Figure 7. The 39Ar-40Ar plateau ages (with errors at the 1s level) of samples from various geological
formations on Tromen. Samples of Tilhué formation are in three groups (from El Paso, Cerro Bayo and
Cerro Tilhué). The histogram of plateau ages has been calculated using errors at the 1s level. Ps-Pa
denotes the pseudoplateau age (Table 1).
between 2050 and 2200 m. At Cerro Tilhué, the earliest
dome is at the base of the andesite series at 2031 m, whereas
later ones are above 2150 m. Thus, in each area, younger
domes stand above older ones, as might be expected for
sequential extrusion. However, a few samples from young
domes were collected at lower altitudes than those from
older domes (examples CB03-14 and CB03-04, Table 1).
[49] For the basalt flows, our ages uphold previous
deductions from local field relationships. On the eastern
flank of Tromen, samples of the Basalto IV formation are
effectively older than the one sample of the Basalto V
formation (Table 1), upholding the relationships of Holmberg
[1975]. On the western flank, except for ABL03-01,
samples of the Basalto III formation are indeed older than
those of the Basalto V formation (Table 1), confirming the
observations of Zollner and Amos [1973]. However, from
one flank to another, the formation ages do not match. This
discrepancy probably illustrates the difficulty of correlating
over wide areas, especially when the rocks are petrologically very similar.
[50] The ages of the conglomeratic deposits are poorly
constrained. Those for pebbles in the Pichichacaico conglomerate are late Pliocene, hence somewhat older than
inferred by Holmberg [1975] for the conglomerate itself, but
older indeed than the Basalto IV formation.
[51] In summary, our ages show that basaltic and more
siliceous products erupted almost simultaneously from Tromen, throughout its 2 Ma of activity.
5. Structure of Tromen
[52] Tromen is at the northern end of the Agrio fold-andtrust belt (Figure 1). The Mesozoic sedimentary substrate of
the volcano is intensely deformed. The main tectonic
structure in the area is the eastward verging Tromen thrust,
at the eastern foot of the volcano (Figures 2 and 8).
According to seismic data, this thrust is deep-seated, involving Paleozoic to Triassic basement [Kozlowski et al.,
1996; Zapata et al., 1999]. Jurassic evaporites of the
Auquilco formation crop out in its hanging wall, in the
overturned Las Yeseras anticline (Figures 2 and 8)
[Holmberg, 1975; Kozlowski et al., 1996]. In map view,
the Tromen thrust is strongly arcuate (Figure 8). It may have
formed that way, under the weight of Tromen [Branquet
and van Wyk de Vries, 2001; Marques and Cobbold, 2002],
or it could be inherited from basement structures, such as
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Figure 8. Structural map of Tromen. Folds and thrusts trend mainly N-S and curve around base of
volcano. Black lines indicate sections (Figures 9, 11, 13, and 14). Dashed lines are traces of topographic
escarpments (E1, E2, and E3). Anticlines in basaltic lavas are labeled (B1, B2, and B3).
Triassic or Jurassic normal faults [Manceda and Figueroa,
1995; Vergani et al., 1995; Zapata et al., 1999]. Below we
list new field observations from the western, northwestern,
northeastern, and eastern flanks of Tromen, where erosion
has provided the best views of structural relationships
(Figure 8).
5.1. Western Flank
[53] Arroyo Blanco is a deeply incised valley on the
western flank of Tromen. It provides an almost continuous
section through deformed Mesozoic strata and their thin
volcanic cover (Figure 9, AA0).
[54] In the western part of the profile, a conglomerate is
unconformable upon an eroded westward verging anticline
in the Agrio formation (anticline A1, Figure 9). This
anticline coincides in position and trend with a topographic
escarpment (E1, Figure 9), which can be traced to north and
south (Figure 8). A second anticline (A2, Figure 9) is partly
masked by pyroclastic deposits. Again, it coincides with a
topographic escarpment (E2, Figure 9) that continues to
north and south (Figure 8). The pyroclastic deposits are
unconformable upon the Mesozoic strata, filling paleovalleys. There are two families of subvertical joints in the
ignimbrites (stereogram, Figure 9). Such preferred orienta-
tions are unlikely to result from cooling. Instead, the acute
bisector probably indicates E/W shortening. The ignimbrites
are unconformably overlain by thick conglomerate that also
fills paleovalleys (Figure 9).
[55] Further east, oil seeps through a more open anticline
(Figure 9) [Cruz et al., 1996]. On its eastern flank are three
westward verging reverse faults (F1, F2 and F3, Figure 9).
These coincide with a third topographic escarpment (E3,
Figure 9) that can be traced to the north (Figure 8), this time
in lava flows of the Basalto V formation (Figure 9). The
flow units become steeper at the escarpment, but do not
change in thickness, and this argues for folding after
consolidation, as a result of reverse faulting at depth.
[56] Near the eastern end of the section is a large
eastward verging anticline (A3, Figure 9). On its western
flank, the Vaca Muerta to Agrio formations are monoclinal.
A reverse fault in the Vaca Muerta formation carries
striations that are compatible with E-W shortening (stereogram, Figure 9). Andesite sills lie within the Mulichinco and
Vaca Muerta formations. To the eastern end of the section,
andesite domes of the Tilhué formation are unconformable
upon eroded strata of the Vaca Muerta formation (Figure 9).
[57] Subvertical E-W dikes crosscut the sills, the Mesozoic strata, and even the domes (Figure 5). Some of the
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Figure 9. Structures on western flank of Tromen. (a) Topographic cross section along northern edge of
Arroyo Blanco. For location, see Figure 8. Notice three topographic escarpments (E1, E2, and E3).
Vertical scale is exaggerated. (b) Geological cross section along Arroyo Blanco. For section line, see
Figure 8. Vertical scale is 1.2 times horizonal scale. Stereograms (lower hemisphere, from programs of
Angelier [1984, 1990]) show joints in ignimbrite and fault slip data in Vaca Muerta formation. Solid lines
are for faults and joint planes, dashed lines are for bedding, dots are for striations, and arrows indicate
motion of footwall. For ignimbrite, two families of vertical joints, if they are shear joints, are compatible
with E-W shortening. For Vaca Muerta formation, stereograms show data in situ (left) and after tilting of
bedding to horizontal (right). The latter are compatible with E-W shortening. Notice that anticlines (A1,
and A2) and reverse faults (F1, F2, and F3) correlate with topographic escarpments (E1, E2, and E3).
Outcrop of pyroclastic deposits (I1) is located on Figure 5a.
dikes are offset up to 20 m across N-S striking faults, which
have reverse and strike-slip components of slip, giving E-W
shortening (Figure 10). The easternmost outcrops of Mesozoic strata reach an altitude of 3000 m (Figure 9), some
2000 m above the foot of the volcano and 1000 m below the
summit. Thus Tromen has a relatively thin volcanic cover,
above a much thicker substrate of deformed sedimentary
rock.
[58] Some kilometers north of the Arroyo Blanco valley,
pyroclastic deposits, including ignimbrite, crop out along
much of the incised valley of Arroyo Chapúa (Figures 2
and 5). They are unconformable on steeply dipping beds of
the Agrio formation in the core of a fault-related anticline
(Figures 2a and 8). The uppermost layers of redeposited ash
(white, Figure 11a) appear to onlap the anticline. In the
hinge, a striated fault, left-lateral and reverse, is compatible
with NW-SE shortening.
[59] These exposures are at the northern end of topographic escarpment E1 (Figures 5 and 8). Between Arroyo
Blanco and Arroyo Chapúa, the escarpment is continuous
and has an arcuate trace.
5.2. Northwestern Flank
[60] Between Los Barros and Laguna del Tromen, a
volcanic plateau is overlain by a series of thin basaltic
flows (Basalto III and Basalto V formations; Figures 2 and 12).
In this area, three topographic ridges trend NNE-SSW (B1,
B2 and B3, Figure 8). These are anticlinal hinges in the lava
flows. The flow units maintain nearly constant thicknesses
around the hinges and they have dips of 15° or more on the
flanks. Flattened vesicles lie parallel to the layering and
have been folded as well (Figure 12). Locally, the long axes
of the vesicles, marking a flow direction, are oblique to the
current topographic slope and also to the current dip
directions. We infer that the folds formed after flow and
cooling of the lava. Because of their elongate shapes, the
anticlines are unlikely to be due to magmatic intrusion.
Because they appear to prolong the topographic escarpments (E1, E2 and E3, Figure 8), which themselves overlie
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Figure 10. Dikes in upper reaches of Arroyo Blanco. For location, see Figures 5 and 9. View is to west.
Dikes are offset by two major faults. Stereograms (inset, lower hemisphere) show minor faults. Solid
lines are for faults and joint planes, dots are for striations, and arrows indicate motion of footwall. In situ
data (left) are as measured. Analyzed data (right) yield acceptable solution for stress tensor (from
programs of Angelier [1984, 1990]). Calculated axes of principal stress (five-, four- and three-pointed
stars) are for s1 (greatest), s2 (intermediate) and s3 (smallest). Data are compatible with E-W shortening
(black arrows).
Figure 11. (a) Fault-related anticline in pyroclastic deposits, Arroyo Chapúa. View is to north. For
location, see Figure 5. Upper layers of redeposited ash (white) onlap folded ignimbrite (forming cliffs).
Fault (dashed trace) offsets base of ignimbrite and underlying strata of Agrio formation (foreground).
(b) Close-up view of fault plane in ignimbrite (located in Figure 11a by arrow). Fault surface dips at 87°
toward N112°. Striation plunges 66° to south. Sense of slip is left lateral, reverse. This fault is compatible
with NW-SE shortening.
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Figure 12. (a) Topographic cross section, Los Barros to Laguna del Tromen. View is to south. For
location, see Figure 8. Lava flows of Basalto III and Basalto V formations control free surface.
Topographic highs are anticlines (B1 and B3). Vertical scale is 6.4 times horizontal scale. (b) Panoramic
view of anticline B3 between Laguna del Tromen and Los Barros. S0 indicates flow banding of lava.
reverse faults in the substrate, we infer that the anticlines are
due to ESE-WNW shortening. Because the folds are gentle,
small-scale fracturing should be enough to accommodate
the small amounts of bending in individual consolidated
layers, and flexural slip may be the mechanism of folding at
the scale of the lava pile.
5.3. Northeastern Flank
[61] To the east of Cerro Bayo dome, sandstones of the
Mulichinco formation crop out widely (Figures 2 and 13),
whereas the underlying black shale of the Vaca Muerta
formation is only exposed in valleys. The bedding dips
almost uniformly at 5– 10° to the NE, except across open
folds and reverse faults trending NNW-SSE (Figures 8 and 13).
Holmberg [1975] reported outcrops of the Huitrı́n formation
in the area. Although his map indicates a hiatus between the
Mulichinco and Huitrı́n formations, we did not observe one.
Instead, we found the Vaca Muerta formation. Upon it and
the Mulichinco formation, Pleistocene sediment of the
Huecú formation forms a thin unconformable layer
(Figure 13), in which two families of joints define a dihedral
angle that is compatible with E-W shortening (stereogram,
Figure 13).
[62] Along the western part of the cross section (BB0,
Figure 13), in the Arroyo Chacaico (located in Figure 2a),
black shale of the Vaca Muerta formation dips gently to the
NE, beneath the volcanic domes. Further west, alternating
conglomeratic units and andesite lavas of the Tilhué formation dip at about 20°W and are probably unconformable
upon Mesozoic strata. The inward dip is rather unexpected
for the flank of a volcano. The andesitic domes of Cerro
Bayo are unconformable upon this series (Figure 13). We
therefore suspect that major tectonic or erosional events
occurred during accumulation of the Tilhué formation.
5.4. Eastern Flank
[63] At Las Yeseras (gypsum quarries), evaporites of the
Auquilco formation are in the core of an exhumed anticline,
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Figure 13. Cross section at Cerro Bayo, NE flank of Tromen. For location, see Figure 8. Stereogram
(lower hemisphere) represents two families of joints in Huecu formation. They are compatible with E-W
shortening. Vertical scale is twice horizontal scale.
in the hanging wall of the eastward verging Tromen thrust
(Figure 2) [Holmberg, 1975; Kozlowski et al., 1996]. This
thrust is blind. At the surface is an asymmetric anticline,
whereas at depth the thrust involves Paleozoic basement
[Kozlowski et al., 1996; Zapata et al., 1999]. Across the
plateau of Pampa Tril, Mesozoic strata of the Agrio and
Mulichinco formations dip very gently to the west (eastern
end of section CC0, Figures 8 and 14). In the hanging wall of
the Tromen thrust, strata of the Agrio to Tordillo formations
dip steeply to the east, and are locally overturned. Fault slip
data and joints within the Mulichinco formation indicate E-W
shortening (Figure 14).
[64] For more than 10 km across Las Yeseras, the
Auquilco formation consists mainly of gypsum, some
400 m thick [Holmberg, 1975]. However, it has one internal
layer of limestone, 10 m thick (Calico member, Figures 2
and 14). Between Las Yeseras and La Vega de la Totora, the
Calico member forms an asymmetric anticline. In its core is
an older limestone (Manga member of the Lotena formation). To the north, the anticline ends against the eastward
verging Yesera thrust. Between the Yesera thrust and a local
back thrust is a pop-up, which consists mainly of breccia.
Angular blocks, tens of meters wide, derive from material of
the Auquilco formation and the Lotena group (Figure 14).
We interpret this breccia as a tectonic melange. Notice that
to the east of the Yesera thrust, sandstone of the Tordillo
formation (Figures 2a and 14) and locally black shale of the
Vaca Muerta formation crop out. They fill the core of a
smooth syncline (Figure 14).
[65] Further west, bedding in the Lotena group forms the
asymmetric Totora anticline (Figure 14). Joints and striated
faults in sandstones of the Lotena formation indicate E-W
shortening. On the western flank of the anticline, the
stratigraphic succession is complete, from the Lotena group
to the Vaca Muerta formation.
[66] Toward the western end of the cross section, conglomerate of the Pichichacaico formation is unconformable
upon the Vaca Muerta, Tordillo and Auquilco formations,
filling a paleovalley (Figure 14). The conglomerate hosts
two families of vertical fractures, which crosscut the pebbles. The fractures strike at about N80° and N120°, defining
a dihedral angle that is compatible with E-W shortening.
Both pebbles and matrix show signs of hydrothermal
alteration.
[67] To the west of the conglomerate is another breccia,
containing blocks, up to 10 m wide, of material from the
Auquilco, Tordillo and Vaca Muerta formations (Figure 14).
We could not see the nature of the contact between breccia
and conglomerate. However, one of the blocks in the
breccia derives from a conglomerate, which is very similar
to the Pichichacaico formation (photo, Figure 14). We
interpret the breccia to be a tectonic melange in a major
thrust zone (Totora thrust, Figure 14).
6. Implications for Tromen
[68] According to our 39Ar-40Ar data (Figure 7), the
magmatic products and conglomerates of Tromen are of
late Pliocene to Holocene age. In addition, some of the
geological formations, as defined by Zollner and Amos
[1973] and Holmberg [1975], are composite, while others
are diachronous. Rather than set up a new classification, we
will describe the growth and structure of Tromen, emphasizing the close relationships between magmatism and
deformation.
6.1. Growth of Tromen
[69] The 39Ar-40Ar ages for Tromen are consistent with
those of other back-arc volcanoes in the Neuquén basin,
such as Auca Mahuida [Rossello et al., 2002; Kay et al.,
2006a] and Payun Matru [Inbar and Risso, 2001]. Volcanic
activity on Tromen started more than two million years ago
(Figure 7). The 39Ar-40Ar ages span the range between circa
2.3 Ma and circa 0.5 Ma (Figure 7). There is only one age
less than 0.5 Ma, but that is not surprising, because we did
not sample the youngest volcanic formations (Basaltos VI
and VII). Our youngest age (0.04 ± 0.04 Ma, CB03-10) and
reports of historical activity [Havestadt, 1752; Simkin and
Siebert, 1994] suggest that Tromen volcano is still active.
[70] From a histogram, there seem to have been two main
periods of volcanic activity (Figure 7). The first period
covers the emplacement of sills, domes and dikes at El Paso,
ignimbrite on the western flank of the volcano, and basaltic
lava flows on both western and eastern flanks. Some of the
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Figure 14. Cross sections at Las Yeseras, eastern flank of Tromen. For location, see Figure 8. Data are
compatible with E-W shortening. In Lajas formation, two families of vertical joints are compatible with
E-W shortening. Tectonic melange (photograph, left) contains block of Pichichacaico conglomerate
(white). Vertical scale is almost twice horizontal scale.
dikes may have been feeding lava flows. Clearly, felsic
rocks (andesite, dacite & rhyolite) appeared together with
basaltic rocks, although the former may have been precursors. The basaltic pebbles within the Pichichacaico formation derive from lava of this period, although the age of the
conglomerate itself is unconstrained. However, at Cerro
Bayo, andesite flows alternated with conglomerates, indicating that significant erosion occurred between eruptions.
[71] The second period of activity at about 1 Ma includes
most of the domes at Cerro Bayo and Cerro Tilhué, and one
dome at El Paso. During this period, basaltic lavas flowed
at Los Barros. Their ages are similar to that of the Cerro
Wayle basalts (1.04 ± 0.06 Ma [Kay et al., 2006a]),
suggesting that their source may have been Cerro Wayle,
rather than Tromen.
[72] The conglomerates of the Huecú and Agua Carmonina formations, as well as the calcrete, contain volcanic
fragments that are more diverse in origin than those of the
Pichichacaico formation. Again, the ages of these formations are unconstrained.
[73] We did not date the Basalto VI and VII formations,
but they are likely to be younger than 0.5 Ma. Indeed, Kay
et al. [2006a] have obtained an Ar/Ar age of 0.175 ±
0.028 Ma. The flows are relatively thin and less voluminous
than the domes and flows of the second period.
6.2. Structure of Tromen
[74] Tromen is in a fold-and-thrust belt (Figure 1)
[Kozlowski et al., 1996]. Deformed Mesozoic strata crop
out in the eroded center of the volcano, at an altitude of
about 3000 m, some 2000 m above the surrounding plain
(Figure 15). On the flanks of Tromen, volcanic products are
relatively thin. On the western flank, basaltic lava flows are
less than 100 m thick in the lower reaches of the Arroyo
Blanco, and 200 to 300 m thick in its upper reaches. On the
eastern flank, domes are about 200 to 300 m thick at Cerro
Bayo (Figure 3). More centrally, volcanic products may be
up to 1000 m thick around the main crater of Tromen, as at
Cerro Wayle. We conclude that more than 80% of the
edifice is Mesozoic sedimentary rock (Figure 15) [see
Kozlowski et al., 1996; Zapata et al., 1999]. Thus Tromen,
like Auca Mahuida to the east [Rossello et al., 2002], is not
like a typical shield volcano, resulting from a thick accumulation of lava. Instead, it consists of a thin volcanic
cover, upon an uplifted area of sediment. What structurally
distinguishes Tromen from Auca Mahuida is that it has been
uplifted as a result of compressional deformation.
[75] Within the substrate of Tromen, the main tectonic
structures are northerly trending folds and thrusts, which
have resulted from E-W shortening (Figure 8). On both
western and eastern flanks, these structures verge outward.
To the south, their traces curve around the foot of the
volcano [Kozlowski et al., 1996; Marques and Cobbold,
2002]. Thus, on the SE flank, the Tromen thrust strikes
NNE-SSW; and on the SW flank, all structures strike NNWSSE. According to our new observations, analogous trends
hold in the north. Thus, on the NE flank, folds and reverse
faults within the Mulichinco and Vaca Muerta formations
trend NW-SE; whereas on the NW flank, folds within basalt
lavas, faults within pyroclastic deposits, and topographic
escarpments, all strike NNE.
[76] In the Neuquén basin in general, both thick-skinned
and thin-skinned thrusts have been reported, on the basis of
surface and subsurface data [Kozlowski et al., 1996; Zapata
et al., 1999]. Thick-skinned deformation is manifest in the
Cordillera del Viento, to the west of Tromen [Kozlowski et
al., 1996], and in the Sierra de Reyes, to the east [Zollner
and Amos, 1973; Holmberg, 1975]. Thin-skinned detachments are common in (1) evaporite of the Auquilco formation, (2) black shale of the Vaca Muerta formation
[Kozlowski et al., 1996] and (3) evaporite of the Huitrı́n
formation [Zapata et al., 2001].
[77] On the eastern flank of Tromen, offsets on the
Tromen, Yeseras, and Totora thrusts are larger than
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Figure 15. Composite cross section of Tromen volcano. For location, see Figure 2a. Down to 1000 m
below surface, data are well constrained on the deeply incised western flank (Arroyo Blanco, Figure 9)
but less so on the eastern flank (Las Yeseras, Figure 14) where basalts cover subsurface features. Deep
faults beneath Pampa Tril are constrained by poor seismic data from southern flank [Kozlowski et al.,
1996]. Schematic faults (dashed lines) represent our preferred model for the deep structure: an
asymmetric pop-up, between eastward verging fore thrusts and westward verging back thrusts. Vertical
scale is 1.6 times horizonal scale.
1000 m and the sheet dip is about 30°. The oldest rocks to
crop out, in the hanging wall of the Tromen thrust, are of the
middle Jurassic Lotena group. The Tromen thrust can be
seen to continue even deeper on seismic profiles [Kozlowski
et al., 1996]. Zapata et al. [1999] have interpreted most of
the deformation in terms of basement tectonics, involving
reactivation of Jurassic normal faults. In contrast, from
outcrop data on the western flank, and from a regional
seismic section across the southern flank, Kozlowski et al.
[1996, Figure 4] inferred a thin-skinned detachment in late
Jurassic shale of the Vaca Muerta formation, reaching under
the entire volcano. We cannot rule out this possibility.
According to our data for the western flank (Figure 9),
the offsets on three reverse faults are smaller than 1000 m,
and the sheet dip is about 20° to the west, slightly steeper
than the surface slope. The Early Cretaceous Agrio formation crops out on the lower slope, whereas the late Jurassic
Vaca Muerta formation crops out nearer the center of the
volcano. Because older rocks do not crop out on this
western flank, the reverse faults may indeed root into a
thin-skinned detachment near the base of the Vaca Muerta
formation. Alternatively, the reverse faults may be more
thick skinned. In our preferred model, Tromen has formed
above a thick-skinned pop-up, between eastward verging
fore thrusts and westward verging back thrusts (Figure 15).
To test this model would require further seismic data.
[78] At outcrop, fault slip data and joints, whether in the
substrate or in overlying volcanic formations, are broadly
compatible with E-W shortening, due allowance being
made for variations around the volcano (Figure 9, 10, and
12 –14). The dikes at Chihuido de Tril and El Paso, and the
lineaments at Cerro Bayo and Cerro Tilhué, are suggestive
of hydraulic fracturing, in a context where the least principal
stress trends N-S and the greatest stress trends E-W. The
dike orientations and the dome alignments are easy to
reconcile with our fault slip data, the current state of stress
in the Neuquén basin [Guzmán et al., 2005], and the current
direction of convergence at the Pacific margin. They may
also be indicative of N-S spreading in the hanging wall of the
Tromen thrust, under the weight of the volcano [see Johnson,
1970; Marques and Cobbold, 2002, 2006; Galland et al.,
2007].
6.3. Age of Deformation
[79] On regional evidence, the Tromen thrust was active
in the Neogene, during the Quechua phase of Andean
orogeny [Cobbold and Rossello, 2003]. Kozlowski et al.
[1996] suggested that compressional deformation in the area
stopped at 12 Ma. More recently, Folguera et al. [2004],
Ramos and Folguera [2005], and Kay et al. [2006a]
estimated an early Pliocene age for the last phases of
compressional deformation. However, recent compression
would better account for offset Quaternary glacial deposits
[Zollner and Amos, 1973] and for active folds and faults
[Cobbold and Rossello, 2003].
[80] The volcanic products and conglomerates of Tromen
are unconformable upon a strongly deformed sedimentary
substrate. The amount of shortening in the volcanic cover,
although difficult to estimate, is probably less than 10%.
Thus most of the shortening in the substrate must have
accumulated before 2.27 ± 0.10 Ma, when volcanic activity
started.
[81] According to our observations, deformation in the
volcanic cover accumulated throughout the late Pliocene to
Holocene.
[82] 1. The domes at Cerro Tilhué and Cerro Bayo lie
along lineaments trending E-W. If these were fissures that
formed by hydraulic fracturing, E-W compression was
active between circa 2 Ma and circa 0.8 Ma (Table 1).
[83] 2. The dikes at Chihuido de Tril and in the Arroyo
Blanco strike almost E-W. If they formed by hydraulic
fracturing under E-W compression, this was active between
2 Ma and 1.6 Ma (Table 1).
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[84] 3. A block of conglomerate, similar in nature to the
Pichichacaico formation, forms part of the tectonic breccia
next to the Totora thrust. If this conglomerate indeed derives
from the Pichichacaico formation, significant tectonic deformation has occurred since 1.83 ± 0.06 Ma (Table 1).
[85] 4. Although the samples of faulted dikes from the
Arroyo Blanco proved to be too weathered for dating, others
in the same area, having the same strike and showing minor
amounts of faulting, yielded acceptable 39Ar-40Ar ages. The
youngest age being circa 1.6 Ma (Table 1 and Figure 7),
shear faulting under E-W compression occurred later than
that.
[86] 5. The basaltic lava flows at Los Barros cooled at
circa 1 Ma and folded then or later. Assuming that the folds
were contemporaneous with long topographic escarpments
(Figures 8, 9, and 12), we infer that reverse faulting in the
substrate continued after 1 Ma.
[87] Although Folguera et al. [2002, 2005, 2006] have
advocated recent E-W extension in the area, all the young
tectonic structures that we have observed on Tromen are
compressional. According to our arguments, E-W compression and shortening were active at various times between
circa 2 Ma and circa 1 Ma. Cobbold and Rossello [2003]
and Guzmán et al. [2005] have argued that they are still
active today. Clearly, further work is needed at a regional
scale to evaluate the relative importance of extension and
compression in space and time in the Neuquén basin.
6.4. Relationships Between Tectonics and Volcanism
[88] Lavas of basaltic to more felsic compositions have
erupted simultaneously or nearly simultaneously from Tromen in several periods since circa 2.3 Ma (Figure 7).
Because Tromen has undergone tectonic shortening,
between circa 2 Ma and circa 1 Ma and more recently as
well, magmatic intrusions and eruptions have been broadly
contemporaneous with deformation. Thus Tromen is one of
the first examples where coeval volcanism and thrusting
have been documented. El Reventador volcano in Ecuador
is another example [Tibaldi, 2005], but from a more transpressional context.
[89] Marques and Cobbold [2001, 2002, 2006] and
Branquet and van Wyk de Vries [2001] have suggested that
the curvature of folds and thrusts around Tromen may be
due to the weight of the edifice. Such a weight induces a
radial stress field [Johnson, 1970], which modifies the
regional stress field of purely tectonic origin. However,
arcuate thrust belts may also result from other mechanisms
[Lickorish et al., 2002]. One possibility is detachment on a
restricted area of evaporite or shale. For Tromen, this would
have to be deeper than the Auquilco formation. Another
possibility is that the Tromen thrust has resulted from
tectonic inversion of earlier arcuate normal faults. Finally,
a possibility of interest in the Andean context is that
detachment has occurred on a weak molten body of magma.
Physical modeling has shown that this is possible, so long
as the magma does not solidify [Galland et al., 2003, 2006,
2007; Galland, 2005], in which case the configuration
results in arcuate thrusts. For testing this hypothesis on
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Tromen, deep drilling or geophysical surveys might be
appropriate methods.
6.5. Consequences for Magma Transport
[90] Beneath Tromen, the magmatic plumbing system is
not constrained. However, because Tromen grew in a
compressional setting, magma is expected to have formed
horizontal or gently dipping intrusive bodies or sills
[Hubbert and Willis, 1957; Watanabe et al., 1999; Sibson,
2003]. Not all such sills necessarily result from compressional
tectonics, but some may do so, even at crustal scale. For
example, a seismic profile across the Hercynian thrust belt of
SW Spain has revealed a long, thin, gently dipping and highly
reflective body, which is probably a mafic sill, emplaced at
midcrustal levels [Simancas et al., 2004; Tornos and Casquet,
2005]. So, under compression what are the mechanisms of
magma rise through the Earth’s crust to the surface?
[91] Some examples of exhumed intrusions indicate what
possibly happens at the roots of Tromen. In the Boulder
Batholith of Montana, there is good evidence for a close
relationship between thrusting and deep intrusion [Kalakay
et al., 2001; Lageson et al., 2001]. The main batholith
intruded in the hanging wall of the thrust front of the Sevier
orogenic belt. The main frontal thrust has an arcuate trace
around the batholith, resulting from the emplacement of
magma during the formation of the orogenic belt [Lageson
et al., 2001]. The batholith is a tabular intrusive body, a few
kilometers thick, gently dipping to the west, and subparallel
to the thrust [Kalakay et al., 2001]. In the Idaho-Bitterroot
Batholith, many intrusions also follow a major thrust
[Foster et al., 2001]. Such associations between intrusions
and thrusts suggest that during compression, thrust faults
could provide a path for magma toward the surface.
Physical modeling has also shown that thrusts can control
magma transport in a shortening crust [Galland et al., 2003,
2006, 2007; Galland, 2005; Musumeci et al., 2005]. If
magma rises along a thrust, it must move horizontally over
a large distance, perhaps in the order of kilometers. Under
these conditions, Tromen volcano may not lie vertically
above its deep source of magma, and we expect significant
horizontal transport of magma within the crust.
[92] In the Andes, other volcanoes lying alongside major
thrust faults are also associated with arcuate traces of the
thrusts, either around the foot of the volcano, or at a slightly
bigger scale. Examples are Guagua Pichincha [Legrand et
al., 2002] and El Reventador [Tibaldi, 2005] in Ecuador;
Taapaca [Clavero et al., 2004] and Socompa [Branquet and
van Wyk de Vries, 2001; van Wyk de Vries et al., 2001] in
Chile; and Maipo in Argentina [Nullo et al., 1993]. We
interpret such associations as possible indicators that these
volcanoes have grown during thrusting and we suspect that
lateral magma transport along active thrust faults is a
common feature within the crust of the Andean volcanic arc.
7. Conclusions
[93] In this paper, we have provided structural and
geochronological evidence for the growth of a volcano in an
active compressional setting. Tromen is a large back-arc
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volcano in the foothills of the Neuquén basin of Argentina. Its
substrate consists of deformed Mesozoic sedimentary rocks.
Volcanic activity on Tromen started at circa 2.3 Ma or earlier
and has continued until today. According to our 39Ar-40Ar
ages, basaltic lavas erupted almost continuously during this
period. The latest of these eruptions appear to have been
historical, so that Tromen is technically an active volcano.
[94] The more felsic products of Tromen appear to have
formed during two main periods. Most of the domes near
the center of the volcano erupted during the first period
(circa 2 Ma), whereas most of those on its eastern and
southern flanks formed during the second period (circa
1 Ma). These products erupted through fissures trending
E-W, which presumably formed by hydraulic fracturing, in
response to magmatic pressure and E-W compression.
[95] On Tromen, basaltic rocks form a thin cover, typically a few hundred meters thick, whereas Mesozoic sedimentary rocks account for about 80% of the edifice. The
sedimentary strata have been tectonically uplifted in a foldand-thrust belt. The main Tromen thrust trends broadly N-S,
but bends around the base of the volcano. Tromen appears
to be at the center of a wide pop-up, between eastward
verging fore thrusts and westward verging back thrusts. The
former at least are deep seated. All these tectonic structures
appear to have resulted from crustal thickening and dominantly E-W shortening.
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[96] The volcanic cover of Tromen is unconformable
upon its Mesozoic substrate. Most of the shortening in the
substrate occurred before the beginning of volcanic activity.
However, the volcanic rocks of Tromen have also recorded
a significant amount of E-W shortening (perhaps as much as
10%). According to our 39Ar-40Ar ages, tectonic deformation was active at circa 2 Ma, and continued after 1 Ma.
Hence Tromen has been volcanically active while in a
compressional tectonic setting.
[97] Although constraints at depth are cruelly missing, we
suggest that the Tromen thrust may have provided a lateral
path for magma on its way to the surface. Such lateral
transport of magma may be common beneath arc volcanoes
growing in close association with active thrusts.
[98] Acknowledgments. We are grateful to Total Austral for funding
our fieldwork in Argentina and analyses in Rennes. Jean-Paul Thiriet and
Christophe Lombard of Total were instrumental in setting up the project,
Rodolfo González and Michael Chaix provided expertise in the field, and
German Canto was an able assistant. Olivier Galland’s salary for his Ph.D.
program at Géosciences-Rennes came from the Ministère de l’Enseignement Supérieur et de la Recherche, France. We acknowledge input from an
earlier study, involving Eduardo Rossello of Buenos Aires, and funded by
CONICET, Argentina. The late Arturo J. Amos introduced PRC to the
geology of the area. Xavier Le Coz provided thin sections, and Nuno
Rodrigues helped to prepare some of the samples for 39Ar-40Ar dating. We
thank Suzanne Mahlburg Kay and an anonymous reviewer for pertinent
comments that helped us to improve parts of the paper.
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