Tephrochronology and chronostratigraphy of the miocene chilcatay and pisco formations (East Pisco Basin, Peru)

Giulia Bosio, Elisa Malinverno, Igor Maria Villa, Claudio Di Celma, Karen Gariboldi, Anna Gioncada, Valentina Barberini, Mario Urbina, Giovanni Bianucci

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39 Scopus citations


Strata of Chilcatay and Pisco formations exposed in the Ica Desert (East Pisco Basin, southern Peru) preserve one of the most complete and rich records of Miocene marine vertebrates of the world. Despite its exceptional importance, the chronostratigraphy of these fossil-bearing deposits has been only sporadically studied in the literature until recently. This work presents a detailed reconstruction of the chronostratigraphic framework, achieved by mapping and logging of seven sections of the Miocene Chilcatay and Pisco formations along the western side of the Ica River. The Chilcatay Formation consists of two allomembers, namely Ct1 and Ct2, bounded at the base by unconformities CE0.1 and CE0.2, respectively. Similarly, the immediately overlying Pisco Formation is divided into allomembers P0, P1, and P2, bounded at the base by unconformities PE0.0, PE0.1 and PE0.2, respectively. The new39Ar–40Ar results presented here, combined with ages of previous work, provide precise constraints on the age of several stratigraphically referenced volcanic ash layers intercalated in the studied fossil-bearing succession, placing its vertebrate fossil fauna within a refined temporal framework and laying the solid ground for its detailed regional and global comparison. The ages of the allomembers, and thus their associated faunas, can be reliably estimated by the combination of39Ar–40Ar dating on tephra layers with diatom biostratigraphy. In the study area, the two methods are mutually consistent and constrain the deposition of the Chilcatay Formation between 19.2 and 18.0 Ma, that of P1 between 9.5 and 8.6 Ma, and that of P2 between 8.4 and 6.7 Ma. In the absence of direct dating of the P0 allomember, which lacks both preserved tephra suitable for39Ar–40Ar dating and microfossils, its age can be constrained to the temporal gap between the youngest age available from the underlying Chilcatay strata (18.0 Ma) and the oldest age available from the overlying P1 strata (9.5 Ma).
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)213-247
Number of pages35
JournalNewsletters on Stratigraphy
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2020


  • 39Ar
  • 40Ar dating
  • Biostratigraphy
  • Miocene
  • Pisco Basin
  • Tephrochronology
  • Tephrostratigraphy


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