Stratigraphy, detrital zircon geochronology and provenance of the Morita formation (Bisbee Group) in northeastern Sonora, Mexico

C. M. González-León*, J. Madhavaraju, E. Ramírez Montoya, L. A. Solari, U. Villanueva-Amadoz, R. Monreal, P. A. Sánchez Medrano

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


The Morita Formation is a Lower Cretaceous unit of the Bisbee Group that crops out in northern Sonora and southeastern Arizona where it was deposited within the Altar-Cucurpe, and Huachuca sub-basins of the Bisbee basin, respectively. In northern Sonora it either overlies strata of the Upper Jurassic Cucurpe Formation, the Glance Conglomerate, or strata of the Lower Cretaceous Cerro de Oro/Rancho La Colgada formations, and it grades upward into the Mural Limestone. In this contribution we characterize the stratigraphy, petrography and detrital zircon geochronology of the Morita Formation along a ca. 60 km-long northwest-southeast transect that includes the complete columns of the Mule Mountains in southeastern Arizona and the sierras San José, Anibacachi and Rancho Búfalo area in northeastern Sonora. Thickness of these sections varies from a minimum of 555 m in Sierra Anibacachi to a maximum of 855 m in Rancho Búfalo. In most sections, the lower half of the Morita consists of reddish siltstone and mudstone with pedogenic calcareous nodules with interbeds of mostly single-storey sandstone bodies, which changes to isolated multi-storey sandstone bodies in its upper half. In contrast, the lower part of the Rancho Búfalo column consists of reddish mudstone/siltstone with isolated, fining-upward, clast-supported, fine-pebble conglomerate beds that grades into reddish to purple, brown and green mudstone/siltstone with isolated, single-storey to multi-storey sandstone beds of its upper part. Lithofacies association in the Morita Formation suggest it is of fluvial origin but ichnofossils and local herringbone- and flaser-cross bedding in its upper part indicate intermitent marginal marine sedimentation preceding the transgression that deposited the overlying Mural shelf. Sandstone composition of the Mule and San José mountains is dominantly feldspatho-quartzose indicating dominant provenance from basement uplift and transitional continental areas, while composition at Sierra Anibacachi and Rancho Búfalo ranges from feldspatho litho-quartzose to litho-quartzose, indicating provenance from recycled orogen. Detrital zircon grains dated from samples of all the studied sections share very similar populations of Proterozoic to Mesozoic ages, but the Mesoproteozoic and Triassic grains compose ca. 64% of the total grains. Detrital zircon grains of Lower Cretaceous age that are only present in samples from the bottom of the Mule and San José Mountains help to constrain a maximum depositional age of 125.5 ± 0.8 Ma for inception of sedimentation of the Morita Formation in this region. According to this age and to observed stratigraphic relationships, we interpret that the lower contact of the Morita Formation is a disconformity with the underlying Glance Conglomerate, or with the Cerro de Oro Formation in northeastern Sonora. Similarly, according to regional stratigraphic relationships and age data known from the Cucurpe-Tuape region, in north-central Sonora, the age of this unit may be constrained to the Aptian stage, in Sonora, from ca. 125 to 115 Ma. Regional isopach curves confirm merging of the sub-basins in northeastern Sonora, continuous sedimentation of the Morita Formation, and presence of the Cananea high separating them.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102761
JournalJournal of South American Earth Sciences
StatePublished - Nov 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Elsevier Ltd


Dive into the research topics of 'Stratigraphy, detrital zircon geochronology and provenance of the Morita formation (Bisbee Group) in northeastern Sonora, Mexico'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this