Origin and provenance of basement metasedimentary rocks from the Xolapa Complex: New constraints on the Chortis-southern Mexico connection

Oscar Talavera-Mendoza, Joaquín Ruiz, Pedro Corona-Chavez, George E. Gehrels, Alicia Sarmiento-Villagrana, José Luis García-Díaz, Sergio Adrian Salgado-Souto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


The U-Pb (LA-MC-ICPMS) geochronology of Xolapa metasedimentary rocks from Tierra Colorada, Guerrero to Puerto Ángel, Oaxaca in southern Mexico reveals that their protoliths accumulated in two distinctive cycles of sedimentation, one of Early Jurassic age and another of Late Cretaceous age. These ages are younger than thought and demonstrate that Xolapa metasedimentary rocks are not rocks from the Acatlán or Oaxacan complexes or their Paleozoic sedimentary covers as claimed. However, detrital zircon ages indicate that Xolapa sediments received contemporaneous detritus most likely from these assemblages suggesting a probably (para-)autochthonous origin for the Xolapa terrane. Xolapa rocks record two major tectonothermal events of 64-59. Ma and ~34. Ma; the first event produced the high-grade metamorphism and widespread migmatization that characterize Xolapa and the second event is likely related to extended heating produced by coeval arc plutonism.Pre-Jurassic assemblages of the Chortis block of Central America contain zircon populations that significantly coincide with those recorded in both, the Acatlán and Oaxacan complexes and their Paleozoic sedimentary covers as well as with those recorded in Xolapa metasediments, which suggests a spatial connection among these petrotectonic assemblages during much of the Mesozoic.It is proposed that Xolapa was generated in a basin floored by Permian rocks flanked on one side by southern Mexico terranes and on the other side by the Chortis block. Contraction of the basin tied to the approach and accretion of the Guerrero terrane arc assemblages during Late Cretaceous time produced crustal thickening and high-grade metamorphism and migmatization at mid-crustal levels. Diachronic exhumation of Xolapa began during Early Paleogene time very likely promoted by the detachment and migration of the Chortis block. The migration would additionally produce slicing of Xolapa assemblages generating its elongated and juxtaposed structure and the margin truncation that characterizes southern Mexico.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)188-199
Number of pages12
JournalEarth and Planetary Science Letters
StatePublished - May 2013


  • Chortis paleogeography
  • Origin of Xolapa
  • Provenance
  • Tectonothermal evolution
  • U-Pb geochronology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science


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