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Open-File Report 02-97

Inventory of Neoproterozoic and Paleozoic strata in Sonora, Mexico

By John H. Stewart and Forrest G. Poole

Thumbnail of and link to report PDF (196 kB)Introduction

This compilation is an inventory of all known outcrops of Neoproterozoic and Paleozoic strata in Sonora, Mexico. We have not attempted an interpretation of the regional stratigraphic or structural setting of the strata. Brief summaries of the stratigraphic setting of the Sonora rocks are given in Poole and Hayes (1971), Rangin (1978), Stewart and others (1984, 1990), and Poole and Madrid (1986; 1988b). More specific information on the setting of strata of specific ages are given by Stewart and others (2002) for the Neoproterozoic and Cambrian; by Poole and others (1995a) for Ordovician shelf strata; by Poole and others (1995b) for Ordovician deep-water openbasin strata; by Poole and others (1997, 1998, 2000a) for Silurian strata; and by Poole and others (2000a) for Mississippian strata. Other reports that discuss regional aspects of Paleozoic stratigraphy include López-Ramos (1982), Peiffer-Rangin, (1979, 1988), Pérez-Ramos (1992), and Stewart and others (1997, 1999a).

Structurally, the major Paleozoic feature of Sonora is the Sonora allochthon, consisting of deep-water (eugeoclinal) strata emplaced in the Permian over shelf (miogeoclinal) deposits (Poole and others, 1995a,b; Poole and Perry, 1997; 1998). The emplacement structure is generally considered to be a major Permian continental margin thrust fault that emplaced the deep-water rocks northward over shelf (miogeoclinal) deposits. An alternate interpretation has been presented by Stewart and others (2002). He proposed that the emplacement of the Sonora allochthon was along a major Permian transpressional structure that was primarily a strike-slip fault with only a minor thrust component .

The Mojave-Sonora megashear has been proposed to disrupt Neoproterozoic and Paleozoic trends in Sonora. This feature is a hypothetical, left-lateral, northwest-striking fault extending across northern Sonora and the southwestern United States (Silver and Anderson, 1974; Anderson and Schmidt, 1983). It is proposed to have Jurassic displacements of about 700-800 km. Current opinion is mixed concerning whether the Mojave-Sonora megashear exists (see discussions and references in Stewart and others, 1990; 1999a).

The inventory presented here is the product of a search of the literature for described Neoproterozoic and Paleozoic localities and our examination of a large number of the outcrops in the field. The individual localities are described by reference letters and numbers, locality name, latitude and longitude, a brief text on the stratigraphy of the strata, and references. Figure 1 is an index showing the location of Sonora and the location of figure 2. The location of a few localites that are outside of figure 2 are also shown on figure 1. We also include a separate description of localities that have been erroneously reported, on the based of our field examinations, to contain Neoproterozoic and Paleozoic rocks. We include a brief description of problematic strata in southern Sonora that have been described as Paleozoic, but may be at least in part Mesozoic. Figures 3-11 show the distribution of Neoproterozoic, Cambrian, Ordovician, Silurian, Devonian, Mississippian, Pennsylvanian, and Permian strata in Sonora.

First posted March 13, 2002

For additional information, contact:
Geology, Minerals, Energy, and Geophysics Science Center
U.S. Geological Survey
345 Middlefield Road, MS 901
Menlo Park, CA 94025-3591

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Suggested citation:

Stewart, John H., Poole, Forrest G., 2002, Inventory of Neoproterozoic and Paleozoic strata in Sonora, Mexico: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 02-97, 50 pp.,


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