Stratigraphy of the Balsas Group in the Amacuzac area, southern Mexico: relationship with Eocene volcanism and deformation of the Tilzapotla-Taxco sector
The Zapalco-Amacuzac area in the Morelos and Guerrero states, southern Mexico, constitutes one of the classic sectors where Paleogene continental beds of the Balsas Group were originally described. The exposed succession has an apparent thickness of ~2,500 m and it is constituted by two distinct sedimentary units separated by a slightly angular unconformity and by two intercalated ignimbrites (35.1 ± 0.4 and 38.5 ± 0.7 Ma, sanidine, K-Ar). The basal beds of the lower sedimentary unit (Tepetlapa Formation) are constituted by matrix-supported conglomerates that grade upwards to sandstone with a poorly defined planar parallel stratification and some intercalated andesitic and mafic lava flows. One of the andesites yielded a whole rock K-Ar date of 44.5 ± 0.7 Ma. Intercalations of conglomerate beds increase again toward the top of this unit. The upper sedimentary unit (Huajintlán Formation) is constituted by a ~300 m thick succession of matrix-supported conglomerate with some lenses of conglomeratic sandstone. This unit unconformably underlies the Tilzapotla ignimbrite whose best age estimate is 34.3 Ma (sanidine Ar-Ar). The beds of the two sedimentary formations dip east to northeast with higher dips for the lower unit (50–30º). Recognized facies in both units are indicative of an alluvial fan environment with more proximal facies for the Huajintlán Formation.
The studied succession is located immediately northwest of a large elliptical (50×30 km) dome structure that resulted from the tumescence stage, in the early evolution of the Tilzapotla caldera, previous to the collapse. The northwestern termination of the dome merges and interferes with the NNE-trending Laramide fold and thrust front of the Iguala Cacahuamilpa highs, near Taxco. In the study area, the dome contours display a local inflection defined by a change in the dip direction of the Morelos and basal beds of the Tepetlapa Formation from north to east. The slight angular unconformity between the Tepetlapa Formation and the overlaying units indicates a first stage of eastward tilting related to an uplift episode in the Taxco area, probably originated by the emplacement of silicic magmas (ca. 38 Ma). The proximal facies of the overlaying Huajintlán Formation and the age (35.1 ± 0.4 Ma) of the Piedras Altas Tuff , indicate that this formation resulted from the rejuvenation of the source area triggered by the tumescence and the initiation of the volcanic activity in the nearby Tilzapotla caldera area. This is confirmed by the higher dips (~50º) of the Tepetlapa Formation near the dome structure and the decreasing dips toward the northeast. The age of one andesite lava flow (44.5 Ma) intercalated in the lower unit is indicative of an Eocene age for the beginning of the Balsas Group accumulation in this area.
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