Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Department of


Date of this Version



Estudios Geológicos, Vol 48, No 3-4 (1992)

DOI: 10.3989/egeol.92483-4382


Licensed CC-BY


Se da a conocer el hallazgo de gasterópodos en una secuencia sedimentaria continental rica en evaporistas y muy pobre en fósiles. Los gasterópodos fueron descubiertos en capas tufáceas, diatomíticas, del Miembro Esperanza de la Formación Sijes, de edad Mioceno superior. El análisis taxonómico permitió ubicarlos como pertenecientes a una nueva especie del género Littoridina. La sección sedimentaria, de origen lacustre tipo playa-lake, contiene mineralizaciones económicas de boratos que son minadas actualmente. La presencia de estos gasterópodos fósiles tiene importancia desde el punto de vista ambiental y son aquí utilizados en la interpretación sobre la génesis de los boratos.

The Upper Miocene to Pliocene Sijes Formation consists of a thick sequence of continental sediments and is of major economic importance because it contains the beds of borate minerals that are being exploited in the Puna. Radiometrically dated as between 7 and 4 Ma, it contains only a few fossils, principally diatoms, the remains of birds, and plant fragments, none of which have stratigraphic significance. External molds of small gastropods discovered recently in the Esperanza (upper) Member of the Sijes Formation near the Sol de Mañana borate mine in the Salar of Pastos Grandes represent the first identifiable remains of this kind of organism in these deposits. The Esperanza Member, about 780 m thick, is composed of beds of clastic alluvial fan sediments that are overlain by fine grained clastics, then gray tuffs and pumicites that have been dated at 5.9 Ma by the fission-track method. A sequence of rythmically bedded lacustrine muds and evaporites overlies the volcaniclastic beds. The gastropod-bearing sediment, an altered volcanic ash, is near the base of this lacustrine section. A fission-track date from a volcanic ash near the top of the section is 4.0 Ma. A disconformity separates the top of the Esperanza Member from a 2,000 m thick Pliocene conglomerate. The gastropods recovered are a new species of Littoridina, a lacustrine genus that is widely distributed in lakes that range from nearly fresh water to very salty water. Generally, living species of Littoridina are small, fragile, and unornamented; they live on a firm substrate of fine-grained sediments in a permanent body of water that does not become highly turbid. Their presence in lacustrine sediments of the Sijes Formation indicates that the lake, though undoubtedly salty at the time, probably was deep enough that the snails generally were below wave base or lived in an environment, perhaps on rooted plants, that did not become highly turbid. Littoridina probably was transported to this lake on the feet or feathers of birds. The genus is dioecious, but a fertilized female of another genus in the family (Amnicola) is capable of depositing viable eggs throughout the year, as long as the water remains at an appropriate temperature.