K-Ar geochronology of basement rocks on the northern flank of the Huancabama deflection, Ecuador

Open-File Report 82-206




The Huancabamba deflection, a major Andean orocline located at the Ecuador-Peru border, constitutes an important geologic boundary on the Pacific coast of South America. Crust to the north of the deflection is oceanic and the basement is composed of basic igneous rocks of Cretaceous age, whereas crust to the south is continental and felsic rocks of Precambrian to Cretaceous age make up the basement. The northern flank of the Huancabamba Deflection in El Oro Province, Ecuador, is underlain by Precambrian polymetamorphic basic rocks of the Piedras Group; shale, siltstone, sandstone, and their metamorphosed equivalents in the Tahuin Group (in part of Devonian age); concordant syntectonic granitic rocks; quartz diorite and alaskite of the Maroabeli pluton; a protrusion of serpentinized harzburgite that contains a large inclusion of blueschist-facies metamorphic rocks, the Raspas Formation, and metamorphic rocks north of the La Palma fault. Biotite from gneiss of the Tahuin Group yields a Late Triassic K-Ar age (210 ? 8 m.y.). This is interpreted as an uplift age and is consistent with a regional metamorphism of Paleozoic age. A nearby sample from the Piedras Group that yielded a hornblende K-Ar age of 196 ? 8 m.y. was affected by the same metamorphic event. Biotite from quartz diorite of the mesozonal Maroabeli pluton yields a Late Triassic age (214 ? 6 m.y.) which is interpreted as an uplift age which may be only slightly younger than the age of magmatic crystallization. Emplacement of the pluton may postdate regional metamorphism of the Tahuin Group. Phengite from politic schist of the Raspas Formation yields an Early Cretaceous K-Ar age (132 ? 5 m.y.). This age is believed to date the isostatic rise of the encasing serpentinized harzburgite as movement along a subjacent subduction zone ceased, and it is synchronous with the age of the youngest lavas of a coeval volcanic arc in eastern Ecuador. A Late Cretaceous K-Ar age (74.4 ? 1.1 m.y.) from hornblende in amphibolite north of the La Palma fault shows that rocks there are distinct from the superficially similar rocks of the Tahuin Group to the south. Biotite from schist in the Eastern Andean Cordillera yields an Early Eocene age (56.6 ? 1.6 m.y.). Metamorphic rocks in the northern part of the Eastern Andean Cordillera are Cretaceous in age and were metamorphosed in part in early Tertiary time. They are unrelated to and were metamorphosed later than any of the diverse rocks exposed on the northern flank of the Huancabamba Deflection.

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K-Ar geochronology of basement rocks on the northern flank of the Huancabama deflection, Ecuador
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Open-File Report
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U.S. Geological Survey,
22 p., 1 over-size sheet, ill., maps ;28 cm.