Boletín de la Sociedad Geológica Mexicana

Volumen 67, núm. 2, 2015, p. 315-335

The Aztlán Fault System: control on the emplacement of the Chichinautzin Range volcanism, southern Mexico Basin, Mexico. Seismic and gravity characterization

José Oscar Campos-Enríquez1,*, Javier Francisco Lermo-Samaniego2, Yanet Teresa Antayhua-Vera3, Marcos Chavacán3, Victor-Manuel Ramón-Márquez3,4


1 Instituto de Geofísica, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, México, D.F., México.
2Instituto de Ingeniería, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, México, D.F., México.
3 Programa de Posgrado de Ciencias de la Tierra, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, D.F., Mexico.
4 Facultad de Ingeniería, Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla, Puebla, México.
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Gravity and seismic studies enabled us to establish the major features of the shallow crustal structure beneath Chichinautzin Range. Accordingly, the Chichinautzin Range evolved above Mesozoic calcareous rocks lying on a metamorphic basement. To the north and south this basement is downfaulted. Nevertheless the north dipping faults downward displace the basement to larger depths (2 to 3 km) in the Mexico and Toluca basins. In the Morelos Basin, the basin is shallower. As block-faulting evolved, the basement edge migrated southwards, thus widening an E-W oriented major depression south of the Mexico Basin. In particular, gravity modeling enabled us to integrate the different faults mapped up to today in and around the Chichinautzin Range into a fault system that can be correlated from the Nevado de Toluca. This system will be referred to collectively as the Aztlán Fault System.

The Xicomulco, Aztec (central and major fault) and La Pera faults are featured by seismicity. Orientation and dips obtained from simple and composite mechanisms indicate NW-SE to N-S extension with minor E-W left-lateral movement. In particular, seismicity extends down to the brittle-ductile transition crustal zone (maximum hypocentral depths of about 15 km) but consequently the major faults, considering their length, should reach lower crustal levels (approximately 40 km). This system is a major active fault system of at least 100 km in length and 30 – 40 km in width, with a density of approximately 10 E-W faults in 30 km, and local extension of about 10 %.

In conjunction with pre-existing NW-SE and NE-SW faults, this E-W fault system would have intensely fractured the crust beneath the Sierra de Chichinautzin. This high degree of fracturing would have enabled the relatively fast emplacement of large quantities of volcanic material to give rise to the Chichinautzin Range, closing the Mexico Basin to the south. The gravity model shows how the different styles of structures north and south of the Chichinautzin Range (extensional and compressive) accommodate themselves. In particular, faults of the Taxco-San Miguel de Allende system affect the basement of the Morelos Basin well further south.

Keywords: Chichinautzin Range, Mexico Basin, Aztlán Fault System, control of magma emplacementl, seismicity, shallow crustal model.

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