Important aspects of the Andean foreland basin in Argentina remain poorly constrained, such as the effect of deformation on deposition, in which foreland basin depozones Cenozoic sedimentary units were deposited, how sediment sources and drainages evolved in response to tectonics, and the thickness of sediment accumulation. Zircon U-Pb geochronological data from Eocene-Pliocene sedimentary strata in the Eastern Cordillera of northwestern Argentina (Pucará-Angastaco and La Viña areas) provide an Eocene (ca. 38 Ma) maximum depositional age for the Quebrada de los Colorados Formation. Sedimentological and provenance data reveal a basin history that is best explained within the context of an evolving foreland basin system affected by inherited palaeotopography. The Quebrada de los Colorados Formation represents deposition in the distal to proximal foredeep depozone. Development of an angular unconformity at ca. 14 Ma and the coarse-grained, proximal character of the overlying Angastaco Formation (lower to upper Miocene) suggest deposition in a wedge-top depozone. Axial drainage during deposition of the Palo Pintado Formation (upper Miocene) suggests a fluvial-lacustrine intramontane setting. By ca. 4 Ma, during deposition of the San Felipe Formation, the Angastaco area had become structurally isolated by the uplift of the Sierra de los Colorados Range to the east. Overall, the Eastern Cordillera sedimentary record is consistent with a continuous foreland basin system that migrated through the region from late Eocene through middle Miocene time. By middle Miocene time, the region lay within the topographically complex wedge-top depozone, influenced by thick-skinned deformation and re-activation of Cretaceous rift structures. The association of the Eocene Quebrada del los Colorados Formation with a foredeep depozone implies that more distal foreland deposits should be represented by pre-Eocene strata (Santa Barbara Subgroup) within the region.
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