Evaporites within Upper Triassic to Lower Cretaceous sequences in the Atacama region of northern Chile are interpreted as the deposits of continental and coastal saline lakes. Halite casts and finely laminated calcareous evaporites, intercalated with alluvial and fluvial sediments, are probably playa lake deposits. These continental evaporites have been recognized in Upper Triassic alluvial sediments (Cifuncho Formation), in Upper Triassic-Lower Jurassic braided river deposits (basal unit of the Pan de Azúcar Formation), and within a sequence of Lower Cretaceous aeolian, alluvial and playa lake mudflat sediments (Quebrada Monardes Formation). Lower Cretaceous evaporites between marine limestones (Lautaro Formation) and continental redbeds (Quebrada Monardes Formation) were probably deposited in coastal saline lagoons, produced during a regionally extensive marine regression. These sequences, and other similar successions in northern Chile, provide a record of almost continuous evaporite deposition, and hence of arid to semi-arid conditions, since Upper Triassic times. These conditions were primarily the result of a constant latitudinal position within the subtropical zone. A contributary factor was the geographical position of the area, initially on the west coast of Gondwanaland and subsequently on the coast of South America, with cold, northward-flowing ocean currents and offshore winds.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)