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Famatinian orogeny

Paleogeographic reconstruction of Gondwana and Laurentia about 70 million years before the Famatinian orogeny. The Famatinian orogeny took place near the right border of the area marked as "Río Plata". Terranes and microcontinents such as Cuyania, Pampia and Chilenia are omitted.

The Famatinian orogeny (Spanish: Orogenia de Famatina) is a pre-Andean orogeny that took place in what is now western South America[note 1] during the Paleozoic, leading to the formation of the Famatinian orogen also known as the Famatinian belt. The Famatinian orogeny lasted from the Late Cambrian to at least the Late Devonian and possibly the Early Carboniferous, with orogenic activity peaking about 490 to 460 million years ago.[1] The orogeny involved metamorphism and deformation in the crust and the eruption and intrusion of igneous rock along a Famatinian magmatic arc that formed a chain of volcanos.[2] The igneous rocks of the Famatinian magmatic arc are of calc-alkaline character and include gabbros, tonalites and granodiorites. The youngest igneous rocks of the arc are granites.[1]


  • Outcrops and sediments 1
  • Plate tectonic setting 2
  • Notes 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5

Outcrops and sediments

The Famatinian orogen's main outcrops lie in Sierras Pampeanas in northwestern Argentina.[1][3] Only the western part of Sierras Pampeanas bears evidence of the Famatinian orogeny; the eastern parts appear to have been largely unaffected.[1] In northern Chile the Belén Metamorphic Complex is believed to be part of the orogen as it was subject to metamorphism in the early Paleozoic.[3] To the south in La Pampa Province, outcrops associated with the orogeny are scarce as most of that region has become blanketed by much more recent Quaternary sediments.[4]

Towards what is now the east of the Famatinian magmatic arc a Precambrian sedimentary basin developed into a back-arc basin during the Ordovician. This basin went from Peru, through Bolivia to northwestern Argentina. The basin collected sediments from the Famatinian orogen and arc and while it did not contain oceanic crust it was a marine basin.[5]

Plate tectonic setting

Famatinian arc magmatism was caused by the subduction of Iapetus Ocean lithosphere beneath Gondwana.[4] As subduction went on, the peak of the orogeny resulted from the collision of the Cuyania terrane with Pampia in the Ordovician.[6]

It has been suggested that the coeval Appalachian Taconic orogeny is the "northward" continuation of the Famatinian orogeny.[note 2] This as been explained by adding that the continent Laurentia could have collided with Gondwana (at what is today western South America) in early Paleozoic times due to the closure of the Iapetus Ocean.[7] Supporting this hypothesis is the fact that the orogens have "truncated ends" that can be matched and that both share the commonality of having carbonate platform sediments at what is today their western side.[7][8] Further, in the mentioned sediments both orogens host similar Olenellid trilobite faunas, something is not expected to be unless both orogens had some sort of contact.[7] According to this view the Cuyania terrane would be an allochthonous block of Laurentian origin that was left in Gondwana after the continents went apart. But such views are not unchallanged since Cuyania is alternatively suggested to have drifted across Iapetus Ocean as a microcontinent starting in Laurentia and accreting then to Gondwana. Further a third model claims Cuyania is para-autochthonous and arrived at its current place by strike-slip fault movements starting not from Laurentia but from another region of Gondwana.[6]


  1. ^ All coordinates in this article are in relation to present-day geography and not to the past disposition of continents, terranes and oceans.
  2. ^ In other words: what is at present the northern end of the Famatinian orogen would have been connected with what is currently the southern end of the Taconic orogen.


  1. ^ a b c d Alvarado, Patricia; Castro de Machuca, Brígida; Beck, Susan (2005). "Comparative seismic and petrographic crustal study between the Western and Eastern Sierras Pampeanas region (31ºS)" (PDF).  
  2. ^ González, Pablo Diego; Sato, Ana María; Basei, Miguel A.S.; Vlach, Silvio R.F.; Llambías, Jorge (2002). Structure, metamorphism and age of the Pampean-Famatinian orogenies in the western Sierra de San Luis (PDF). Actas XV Congreso Geológico Argentino. Retrieved 18 September 2015. 
  3. ^ a b  
  4. ^ a b Chernicoff, Carlos J.; Zappettini, Eduardo O.; Santos, João O.S.; Allchurch, Shelley; McNaughton, Neal J. (2010). "The southern segment of the Famatinian magmatic arc, La Pampa Province, Argentina".  
  5. ^ Bahlburg, Heinrich; Vervoort, Jeffrey D.; DeFrane, S. Andrew; Carlotto, Victor; Reimann, Cornelia; Cárdenas, José (2011). "The U-Pb and Hf isotope evidence of detrital zircons of the Ordovician Ollantaytambo Formation, southern Peru, and the Ordovician provenance and paleogeography of southern Peru and northern Bolivia".  
  6. ^ a b Vujovich, Graciela I.; van Staal, Cees R.; Davis, William (2004). "Age Constraints on the Tectonic Evolution and Provenance of the Pie de Palo Complex, Cuyania Composite Terrane, and the Famatinian Orogeny in the Sierra de Pie de Palo, San Juan, Argentina" (PDF). Gondwana Research (Facultad de Ciencias Exactas y Naturales,  
  7. ^ a b c Dalla Salda, Luis H.; Dalziel, Ian W.D.; Cingolani, Carlos A.; Varela, Ricardo (1992). "Did the Taconic Appalachians continue into southern South America?".  
  8. ^ Dalla Salda, Luis H.; López de Luchi, Mónica.; Cingolani, Carlos A.; Varela, Ricardo (1998). "Laurentia-Gondwana collision: the origin of the Famatinian-Appalachian Orogenic Belt (a review)". In Pankhust, R.J.; Rapela, C.W. The Proto-Andean Margin of Gondwana 142. Geological Society, London, Special Publications. pp. 219–234. 

External links

  • Animation of world plate tectonics, note Cuyania's (red) trajectory from 0:20 onwards.
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