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New stratigraphic, geochronological, and structural data from the southern Guanajuato Mining District, México: implications for the caldera hypothesis

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journal contribution
posted on 13.11.2015 by Ángel Francisco Nieto-Samaniego, Javier Antonio Báez-López, Gilles Levresse, Susana Alicia Alaniz-Alvarez, Carlos Ortega-Obregón, Margarita López-Martínez, Benito Noguez-Alcántara, Jesús Solé-Viñas

The Cenozoic stratigraphy of the southern Guanajuato Mining District (GMD) was established 40 years ago. The existence of a caldera structure that produced the Cenozoic volcanic cover was postulated and the world-class silver ore deposit of the Oligocene age has been closely related to magmatism. In this context, we present a new geological map of the southern GMD, U–Pb and Ar–Ar ages of the volcanic units, and structural data for the Cenozoic faults. Our results document that the volcanic centre was active between ca. 33.5 Ma and ca. 31.3 Ma, coeval with NW–SE normal faulting. We propose that the Bufa, Calderones, and Cedro formations are stratigraphic units directly related to the volcanic centre. Although the younger Chichíndaro Rhyolite scarcely crops out within the study area, it appears to be more extensive outside of the study area, forming part of the rhyolitic volcanism of the Mesa Central of Mexico. In the study area, the Chichíndaro Rhyolite buries major faults, demonstrating that it was emplaced after the peak of faulting. The two main structures are the El Cubo and Veta Madre grabens; also there are several faulted and brecciated zones where silver–gold mineralization was emplaced. The extension direction changed from NE to NW producing normal faulting, reactivating older structures and allowing dike intrusion. The extensional phase continued to be active throughout the Oligocene. The age of the volcanic event and a new K–Ar age of the Veta Madre vein of 29.8 ± 0.8 Ma (K–Ar in adularia) indicate that the hydrothermal event began immediately after the emplacement of the Cedro Formation. The emplacement of the Chichíndaro Rhyolite allowed hydrothermal activity to be active for two million years or more.