El Morro caldera (33° 10′ S, 66° 24′ W), San Luis, Argentina: An exceptional case of fossil pre-collapse updoming

P. Sruoga, O.D. Ibañes, M.S. Japas, N.E. Urbina
Año de la publicación: 
2 017
Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research - Volume 337, 1 May 2017, Pages 81–97
Volcanism at Sierra del Morro represents the final stages of the flat-slab related magmatism in the easternmost San Luis Neogene Volcanic Belt. This ~ 80 km-long NW-WNW-trending belt tracks the episodic inland migration of both magmatism and tectonic deformation since ~ 18 Ma. The Sierra del Morro stands out in the Eastern Sierras Pampeanas as a metamorphic block uplifted during the Late Miocene-Pleistocene by a combination of magma injection and tectonic deformation. Although sequences that preserve stages of basement updoming are not often preserved, exposures in Sierra del Morro are exception in providing key evidence and insight into the involved processes. Based on the comprehensive study of volcanic stratigraphy and structures, the reconstruction of the volcanic architecture has been carried out. We infer a three stage evolution of the El Morro caldera as follows: 1) pre-collapse updoming and volcanism, 2) collapse caldera formation and 3) post-caldera volcanism. The ascent of magma is recorded in small tumescence sites, strongly controlled by oblique transtensional WNW-NW and ENE-striking brittle-ductile megashear zones. Even though the area affected by tumescence was large, magma injection progressed only locally. At Cerros Guanaco and Pampa, metamorphic rocks were updomed and strongly brecciated, whereas at Sierra del Morro magma was emplaced as pre-collapse domes with associated block-and-ash flows, ignimbrite caldera-forming eruptions and post-caldera lava domes and dykes. The caldera is located in the intersection of two major oblique transtensional WNW-NW and ENE-trending brittle-ductile megashear zones, where the highest positive dilatation occurred.