Vestige of the Rheic Ocean in North America: The Acatlán Complex of southern México Conference Paper uri icon


  • The Acatlán Complex of southern México comprises metasedimentary and metaigneous rocks that represent the vestige of a Paleozoic ocean. Juxtaposed against granulite-facies gneisses of Mesoproterozoic (ca. 1 Ga) age, the complex has previously been related to the Iapetus Ocean and interpreted to preserve a tectonostratigraphic record linked to that of the Appalachian orogen: (1) Cambro-Ordovician deposition of a trench or forearc sequence (the Petlalcingo Group: the Magdalena, Chazumba, and Cosoltepec Formations) and an oceanic assemblage (the Piaxtla Group), (2) polyphase Late Ordovician-Early Silurian deformation (the Acatecan orogeny) during which the Piaxtla Group underwent eclogite-facies metamorphism synchronous with megacrystic granitoid emplacement, (3) deposition of the arc-related Tecomate Formation and intrusion of megacrystic granitoid plutons during the Devonian, and (4) deformation under greenschist-facies conditions during the Late Devonian Mixtecan orogeny. However, recent structural, geochronological, and geochemical studies have shown that (1) the Cosoltepec Formation is bracketed between ca. 455 Ma and the latest Devonian and may be part of a continental rise prism with slivers of oceanic basalt; (2) the Magdalena and Chazumba Units represent a clastic wedge assemblage of Permo-Triassic age; (3) the eclogitic metamorphism is locally Mississippian in age; (4) the Tecomate Formation is an arc complex of latest Pennsylvanian-Middle Permian age; (5) the megacrystic granitoid rocks span the Ordovician and have a calc-alkaline geochemistry, whereas accompanying mafic units have mixed continental arc-tholeiitic affinities and are locally as young as the earliest Silurian; (6) the greenschist-facies tectonothermal event occurred in the Permo-Triassic; and (7) the complex records a Jurassic tectonothermal event that resulted in local high-grade metamorphism and migmatization. This revised geological history precludes any linkage to Iapetus, but is consistent with that of the Rheic and paleo-Pacific Oceans and is interpreted to record (1) development of a rift or passive margin on the southern flank of the Rheic Ocean in the Cambro-Ordovician, (2) formation of either an arc or an extensional regime along the formerly active northern margin of Gondwana throughout the Ordovician, (3) ocean closure documented by subduction-related eclogite-facies metamorphism and exhumation during the Late Devonian-Mississippian, (4) Permo-Triassic convergent tectonics on the paleo-Pacific margin of Pangea, and (5) overriding of a Jurassic plume. © 2007 Geological Society of America. All rights reserved.

author list (cited authors)

  • Nance, R. D., Miller, B. V., Keppie, J. D., Murphy, J. B., & Dostal, J.

citation count

  • 23

publication date

  • January 2007