Intramontane sedimentary basins along the margin of continental plateaus often preserve strata that contain fundamental information regarding the pattern of orogenic growth. The sedimentary record of the clastic Miocene-Pliocene sequence deposited in the Fiambalá Basin, at the southern margin of the Puna Plateau (NW Argentina), documents the late Miocene paleodrainage evolution from headwaters to the west, towards headwaters in the ranges that constitute the border of the Puna Plateau to the north. Apatite Fission track (AFT) thermochronology of sedimentary and basement rocks show that the southern Puna Plateau was the source for the youngest, middle Miocene, detrital population detected in late Miocene rocks; and that the margin of the Puna Plateau expressed a high relief, possibly similar to or higher than at present, by late Miocene time. Cooling ages obtained from basement rocks at the southern Puna margin suggest that exhumation started in the Oligocene and continued until the middle Miocene. We interpret the basin reorganization and the creation of a high relief plateau margin to be the direct response of the source-basin system to a wholesale surface uplift event that may have occurred during the late Cenozoic in the Puna-Altiplano region. At this time coeval paleodrainage reorganization is observed not only in the Fiambalá Basin, but also in different basins along the southern and eastern Puna margin, suggesting a genetic link between the last stage of plateau formation and basin response. However, this event did not cause sufficient exhumation of basin bounding ranges to be recorded by AFT thermochronology. Our new data thus document a decoupling between late Cenozoic surface uplift and exhumation in the southern Puna Plateau. High relief achieved at the Puna margin by late Miocene time is linked to Oligocene-Miocene exhumation; no significant erosion (< 3 km) has occurred since in this arid highland.
- sedimentary basin
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Geochemistry and Petrology
- Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
- Space and Planetary Science