Closure of the Clymene Ocean and formation of West Gondwana in the Cambrian: Evidence from the Sierras Australes of the southernmost Rio de la Plata craton, Argentina
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The formation of Gondwana took place across a series of Brasiliano–Pan African suture zones that record late Neoproterozoic to earliest Paleozoic collisions between Precambrian cratons. In South America, an internal suture zone marks the disappearance of the Clymene Ocean that separated the Amazon craton from the São Francisco and Rio de la Plata cratons. New geochronological data from the southern end of this massive collision zone in the Sierras Australes of central-eastern Argentina document Paleoproterozoic crust and suggest an Ediacaran age for the oldest sedimentary rocks. These two observations extend the known limit of the Rio de la Plata craton at least 200 km SW of previous estimates. New data also confirm the occurrence of late Ediacaran to late Cambrian magmatism in the Sierras Australes. The age of these hypabyssal to volcanic rocks corresponds to igneous events in the Pampean belt along the western margin of the Rio de la Plata craton, although the shallow level magma emplacement in the Sierra da Ventana study area contrasts with the deeply exhumed rocks of the Pampean orogeny type locality. These new age data are compared with a broadcompilation of geochronological age Clymene collision belts to the north, the Paraguai and Araguaia belts. The close overlap of the timing of orogenesis indicates the age of Clymene ocean closure in its northern reaches. In the south, the Pampean belt was unconfined, allowing continued tectonic activity and crustal accretion throughout the Paleozoic.
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