A program of geologic mapping and mineral investigation in Colombia was undertaken cooperatively by the Colombian Instituto Nacional de Investigaciones Geologico-Mineras (formerly known as the Inventario Minero Nacional), and the U. S. Geological Survey; by the Government of Colombia and the Agency for International Development, U. S. Department of State. The purpose was to study, and evaluate mineral resources (excluding of petroleum, coal, emeralds, and alluvial gold) of four selected areas, designated Zones I to IV, that total about 70,000 km2. The work in Zone III, in the Cordillera Oriental, was done from 1965 to 1968.
The northeast trend of the Cordillera Oriental of Colombia swings abruptly to north-northwest in the area of this report, and divides around the southern end of the Maracaibo Basin. This section of the Cordillera Oriental is referred to as the Santander Massif.
Radiometric age determinations indicate that the oldest rocks of the Santander massif are Precambrian and include high-grade gneiss, schist, and migmatite of the Bucaramanga Formation. These rocks were probably part of the Precambrian Guayana Shield. Low- to medium-grade metamorphic rocks of late Precambrian to Ordovician age .include phyllite, schist, metasiltstone, metasandstone, and marble of the Silgara Formation, a geosynclinal series of considerable extent in the Cordillera Oriental and possibly the Cordillera de Merida of Venezuela. Orthogneiss ranging from granite to tonalite is widely distributed in the high- and medium-grade metamorphic rocks of the central core of the massif and probably represents rocks of two ages, Precambrian and Ordovician to Early Devonian. Younger orthogneiss and the Silgara are overlain by Middle Devonian beds of the Floresta Formation which show a generally low but varying degree of metamorphism. Phyllite and argillite are common, and infrequent marble and other calcareous beds are fossiliferous. Except for recrystallization in limestones of !the Permian-Carboniferous Diamante Formation, sedimentary rocks younger than Devonian are unmetamorphosed.
The effects of Precambrian regional dynamothermal metamorphism and plutonism on Precambrian geosynclinal deposits reached the upper amphibolite facies in the Bucaramanga Gneiss. The geosynclinal Silgara Formation was subjected to similar conditions in Late Ordovician and Early Silurian time but reached only the greenschist or lower amphibolite facies. Orthogneisses generally show a concordance of foliation and lineation with the neighboring Silgara Formation and the Bucaramanga Gneiss as well as similarities in grade of metamorphism. Regional dynamothermal metamorphism in Late Permian and Triassic time reached, low grade in the Floresta Formation and caused recrystallization of limestone of the Diamante Formation.
The Bucaramanga and Silgara metamorphic rocks show evidence of metrogressive metamorphism accompanied by high activity or potassium and water, but whether this occurred at the time the Floresta was metamorphosed or later is not clear.
Batholiths, plutons, and stocks of igneous rocks in the Santander massif range from diorite to granite. Radioactive age data indicate that most belong to a single plutonic interval. These are referred to as the Santander Plutoniq Group and are Jurassic and Jurassic-Triassic- Two suites of this group are pink granite and quartz monzonite, and gray quartz monzonite and granodiorite. Contact relations indicate that the pink and more granitic rocks are younger than the gray and more mafic rocks, but radioactive age data are in conflict with this. Undated plutonic rocks that are not clearly related to the group are assigned to relatively older or younger age positions.
West of the Bucanamanga fault rhyolite makes up a small body at one locality and forms an intrusive sheet with granophyre and intrusive breccias in Triassic sedimentary rocks at another locality. Its age is unknown, but it probably is younger than the
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USGS Numbered Series
Geology of quadrangles H-12, H-13, and parts of I-12 and I-13, (zone III) in northeastern Santander Department, Colombia