Incremental growth of an upper crustal, A-type pluton, Argentina: Evidence of a re-used magma pathway

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Carboniferous igneous activity in the Sierra de Velasco (NW Argentina) led to the emplacement of several magmas bodies at shallow levels (b2 kbar). One of these, the San Blas intrusive complex formed over millions of years (≤2–3 m.y.) through three periods of magma additions that are characterized by variations in magma sources and emplacement style. The main units, mostly felsic granitoids, have U-Pb zircon crystallization ages within the error range. From older to younger (based on cross-cutting relationships) intrusive units are: (1) the Asha unit (340 ± 7 Ma): a tabular to funnel-shaped intrusion emplaced during a regional strain field dominated by ~WSW-ENE shortening with contacts discordant to regional host-rock structures; (2) the San Blas unit (344 ± 2 Ma): an approximate cylindrical-shaped intrusion formed by multiple batches of magmas, with a roughly concentric fabric pattern and displacement of the host rock by ductile flow of about 35% of shortening; and (3) the Hualco unit (346 ± 6 Ma): a small body with a possible mushroom geometry and contacts concordant to regional host-rock structures. The magma pulses making up these units define two groups of A-type granitoids. The first group includes the peraluminous granitic rocks of the Asha unit generated mostly by crustal sources (εNdt = −5.8 and εHft in zircon = −2.9 to −4.5). The second group comprises the metaluminous to peraluminous granitic rocks of the youngest units (San Blas and Hualco), which were formed by a heterogeneous mixture between mantle and crustal sources (εNdt = +0.6 to −4.8 and εHft in zircon = +3 to −6). Our results provide a comprehensive view of the evolution of an intrusive complex formed from multiple non-consanguineous magma intrusions that utilized the same magmatic plumbing system during downward transfer of host materials. As the plutonic system matures, the ascent of magmas is governed by the visco-elastic flow of host rock that for younger batches include older hot magma mush. The latter results in ductile downward flow of older, during rise of younger magma. Such complexes may reflect the plutonic portion of volcanic centers where chemically distinct magmas are erupted.
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