Revista de la Asociación Geológica Argentina
versión On-line ISSN 1851-8249
PASQUARE, Giorgio et al. Very long pahoehoe inflated basaltic lava flows in the Payenia volcanic province (Mendoza and la Pampa, Argentina). Rev. Asoc. Geol. Argent. [online]. 2008, vol.63, n.1, pp. 131-149. ISSN 1851-8249.
Extremely long basaltic lava flows are here presented and described. The flows originated from the great, polygenetic, fissural Payen Volcanic Complex, in the Andean back-arc volcanic province of Payenia in Argentina. The lava flows outpoured during the Late Quaternary from the summit rift of a shield volcano representing the first volcanic centre of this complex. One of these flows presents an individual tongue-like shape with a length of 181 km and therefore is the longest known individual Quaternary lava flow on Earth. Leaving the flanks of the volcano this flow reached the Salado river valley at La Pampa and, in its distal portion, maintained its narrow and straight shape without any topographic control over a flat alluvial plain. It has a hawaiite composition with low phenocryst content of prevailing olivine and minor plagioclase. Rare Earth element patterns are typical of Na-alkaline basalts, but incompatible trace element patterns and Sr -Nd isotope ratios, suggest a geodynamic setting transitional to the orogenic one. The flow advanced following the thermally efficient "inflation" mechanism, as demonstrated by a peculiar association of well developed morphological, structural and textural features. The temperature of 1130-1160°C and the viscosity of 3-73 Pa*s, calculated by petrochemical data, may be considered, together with a very low cooling rate and a sustained and long lasting effusion rate, the main causes of the extremely long transport system of this flow. Both the extreme length of the flow and the partial lack of topographic control may provide new constraints on the physics of large inflated flows, which constitute the largest volcanic provinces on Earth and probably also on the terrestrial planets.
Palabras clave : Pahoehoe lava flows; Inflated flows; Payenia.