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The Mesozoic marginal basin of central Peru


The west Peruvian Trough1,2 extends some 1,300 km from north of Trujillo to about 150 km short of Arequipa (Fig. 1). It received upwards of 9,000 m of material during the Mesozoic and within the Cretaceous rocks there is a well defined west-to-east facies change whereby thick, volcaniclastic turbidites and pillow lavas (the ‘eugeosyncline’ of Cobbing3) thin eastward to be replaced by a mixed clastic shelf sequence (the ‘miogeosyncline’). We report here chemical analyses of the volcanic rocks and data on the association of cherts, volcaniclastic turbidites, dyke and sill complexes and large gabbro masses as well as geophysical evidence which suggests that the ‘eugeosyncline’ is an extensional marginal basin similar to that seen in rocks of the same age in Southern Chile4. The Coastal Batholith is thought to have been emplaced within this marginal basin during the Upper Cretaceous5, and the evolution of this ‘ensialic’ new crust therefore has important implications for the growth of the continental margin of South America, as well as for batholith genesis.

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Atherton, M., Pitcher, W. & Warden, V. The Mesozoic marginal basin of central Peru. Nature 305, 303–306 (1983).

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