Stratigraphy and geochronology of the Comondú Group near Loreto, Baja California Sur, Mexico

Paul J. Umhoefer, Rebecca J. Dorsey, Shawn Willsey, Larry Mayer, Paul Renne

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81 Scopus citations


Upper Oligocene to Middle Miocene volcanic and sedimentary rocks in the Loreto region, Baja California Sur, are widely exposed and make up the Comondú Group as redefined here following McFall. The Comondú Group is part of a volcanic are and forearc basin that formed along the northwestern margin of Mexico. Regional to detailed scale mapping, stratigraphic analysis, and geochronology in a 10-20-km-wide and 70-km-long belt from the gulf escarpment to the coast near Loreto reveal three main units in the Comondú Group and a composite thickness of ~1.5-2 km. (1) The lower clastic unit (Ο30-19 Ma) contains 200-300 m of fluvial sandstone and conglomerate with probable local eolian deposits and numerous felsic tuffs and basalt flows that accumulated in a forearc basin. (2) The middle breccia and lava flow unit (~19-15 Ma) is up to 750 m thick and consists of massive andesite breccia that was deposited as proximal debris flows interbedded with minor andesite lava flows. (3) The upper lava flow and breccia unit (~15-12 Ma) consists almost entirely of up to Ο600 meters of andesite lava flows a few kilometers west of Loreto that are part of a composite volcano. North and south of Loreto for up to 25 km, the unit is composed of andesite lava flows and massive andesite breccia that formed from thick debris flows near that and other volcanic centers. The three units of the Comondú Group in the Loreto area correlated with the Salto. Pelones, and Ricasón formations of the Bahía Concepción area. The lower clastic unit of this study is time equivalent to the marine San Gregorio, El Cien, and Isidro formations on the western and southern Baja California peninsula. The middle and upper units of the Loreto area are the proximal equivalent to the type section of the Comondú Group near the village of Comondú. During deposition of the lower part of the Comondú Group, the arc lay to the east on mainland Mexico in the Sierra Madre Occidental, and then migrated to the position of the Gulf of California at about 25 Ma. At ~19 Ma the proximal part of the arc migrated abruptly >50 km westward to approximately the position of Carmen Island and at 15 Ma the arc once again stepped west forming eruptive centers along the coast near Loreto until ~12 Ma. Also at 15 Ma, the proximal forearc region changed from aggradational to neutral or erosional such that no rocks of the upper unit are preserved in the gulf escarpment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)125-147
Number of pages23
JournalSedimentary Geology
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - 2001


  • Baja california
  • Miocene
  • Oligocene
  • Stratigraphy
  • Volcanic arc

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geology
  • Stratigraphy


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