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Geological, structural and geochronological framework of the Veladero North area, Cordillera Frontal, Argentina Charchaflie, Diego

Abstract

The Veladero North area, located in the northern part of the El Indio-Pascua Belt within the Cordillera Frontal of Argentina and Chile, contains gold reserves and resources that combined exceed 370 tons (12 Moz). Throughout the Belt, mineralization is related to Miocene magmatic activity and both high- and low-sulfidation systems have been mined. The Miocene volcanic rocks form several formations separated by unconformities from underlying Carboniferous to Triassic volcanic and plutonic rocks. Whereas age and structural relationship of these rocks are well known in Chile, the geology of the Argentinan flank is poorly documented. This study defines the stratigraphy, geology and tectonic evolution of the Veladero North area and clarifies the regional framework of the Cordillera Frontal in Argentina. Thrust faults that dip steeply (70° to 90°) to the west and back-thrusts that dip steeply (70° to 90°) to the east define the overall geometry of the Miocene fold and thrust belt around the Veladero North area. The thrust panels comprise Permian (259 ± 0.7 Ma to 254 ± 4.2 Ma, U-Pb) rhyolitic volcanic and volcaniclastic rocks assigned to the Guanaco Sonso Formation and late Oligocene to early Miocene (24.5 ± 0.2 Ma to 22.8 ± 1.7 Ma, U-Pb) andesitic to dacitic pyroclastic and sedimentary rocks equivalent to the Tilito Formation. Middle Miocene (15.8 ± 1 Ma, U-Pb and 12.7 ± 0.9 Ma to 11.0 ± 0.2 Ma, ⁴⁰Ar-³⁹Ar) pyroclastic rocks and shallow intrusives of the Cerro de las Tortolas Formation and Infiernillo Unit, and Vacas Heladas Formation in the study area unconformably overlie the fold and thrust belt. These strata are sub-horizontal or dip shallowly (

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