Original paper

Basin evolution of the margin of Gondwana at the Neoproterozoic/Cambrian transition: the Puncoviscana Formation of Northwest Argentina

Toselli, Alejandro J.; Aceñolaza, Guillermo F.; Miller, Hubert; Adams, Christopher; Aceñolaza, Florencio G.; Rossi, Juana N.


The Puncoviscana Formation is an important stratigraphic sequence of sandstones and shales, with intercalated conglomerates, limestones and volcanic rocks. It was deposited at the Neoproterozoic-Cambrian boundary in a shallow basin on the western margin of Gondwana. Trace fossils of the Puncoviscana Formation s.l. are represented by the Oldhamia and Nereites ichnoassociations and the geographical distribution of assemblages are aligned as parallel belts, with a shallower eastern Nereites association and a deeper western Oldhamia association. They represent different temporal levels on the evolution of the basin. Detrital zircon spectra display a wide range of ages, which indicate their provenance from Neoproterozoic to Cambrian source areas as well as Meso- to Paleoproterozoic basement units, exhibiting typical Gondwanan ages. Thick limestone banks are interbedded in the Puncoviscana Formation s. l. that included the siliciclastic sequences, with very low- to medium-metamorphic grade. δ13C values for the limestones vary from -1.57 to +3.4‰ VPDB, while in the Sierras Pampeanas, δ13C values vary from +2.6 to +8‰ VPDB. Also, reported 87Sr/86Sr values allow a clear differentiation of two rock sets. The limestones interbedded with the Puncoviscana Formation yielded values typical for the Neoproterozoic-Cambrian transition, between 0.70868 and 0.70896; while the limestones of the Sierras Pampeanas display values between 0.70748 and 0.70756, common in the Middle to Late Ediacaran. Deformation and uplift of the Puncoviscana Formation is clearly represented in northern Argentina by the Tilcarian unconformity, which is overlain by the Mesón Group.


puncoviscana formationnereites and oldhamia associationsδ13c valuesneoproterozoic-cambrian transition