Original paper

The Tithonian stratigraphy and ammonite fauna of the transect Portada Covunco-Cerrito Caracoles (Neuquén Basin, Argentina)

Parent, Horacio; Garrido, Alberto C.; Schweigert, Günter; Scherzinger, Armin


The stratigraphy and the ammonite fauna of the Vaca Muerta and Picún Leufú formations outcropping along the transect Portada Covunco-Cerrito Caracoles (south-central Neuquén Basin) were studied by means of two representative sections. The detailed study of the lithological succession of the two sections has allowed to complete the formal subdivision of the Vaca Muerta Formation by the introduction of two new members: the Portada Covunco Member (nov.) at the base, and the Pichi Moncol Member (nov.) at the top; the middle part of the formation is currently known as the Los Catutos Member. The ammonite fauna is mainly composed by species already recorded in other localities of the basin. There are six new species, but they remain to be formally described based on better and more abundant material: Choicensisphinctes cf./aff. platyconus, Catutosphinctes aff. rafaeli, Catutosphinctes n. spp. A & B, Steueria aff. alternans, and Sutneria n. sp. A. The lowermost Tithonian (lower Picunleufuense Zone) is well represented in the section P. Covunco by the guide assemblage (Lithacoceras picunleufuense, Choicensisphinctes platyconus and Catutosphinctes guenenakenensis) at the base of the P. Covunco Mb. The Zitteli Zone (which seems to overlap the Mendozanus Zone) and the Proximus Zone occur in the middle and upper parts of the P. Covunco Mb, as recongnized by their characteristic ammonite assemblages. The upper part of the Middle Tithonian, the Internispinosum Zone, corresponds to the Los Catutos Mb and, apparently, the upper part of the Vaca Muerta Fm (Pichi Moncol Mb), although it is fossiliferous only in its lower part. The lower Upper Tithonian Alternans Zone is well documented by ammonites, whereas the upper Upper Tithonian yielded only scarce fossils which could even represent the lower Berriasian Noduliferum Zone.


argentinaeastern neuquén basintithonianvaca muerta fmPicún Leufúammonites