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Neuquén Basin (Spanish: Cuenca Neuquina) is a sedimentary basin covering most of Neuquén Province in Argentina. The basin originated in the Jurassic and developed through alternating continental and marine conditions well into the Tertiary. The basin bounds to the west with the Andean Volcanic Belt, to the southeast with the North Patagonian Massif and to the northeast with the Sierra Pintada System.[1] The basin covers an area of approximately 120,000 square kilometres (46,000 sq mi).[2]

Neuquén Basin
Cuenca Neuquina
Map showing the location of Neuquén Basin
Map showing the location of Neuquén Basin
EIA Neuquen Basin.png
Map of Vaca Muerta showing the extend of the Neuquén Basin. Colors indicate hydrocarbon maturity as measured by vitrinite reflectance. Huincul Fault is shown in grey.
Etymology Neuquén Province
Location Southern South America
Country  Argentina
State(s) Neuquén Province
Cities Neuquén, Bariloche
On/Offshore Onshore
Boundaries Andean Volcanic Belt, North Patagonian Massif, Sierra Pintada
Part of Andean foreland basins
Area 120,000 km2 (46,000 sq mi)
River(s) Río Negro, Colorado
Lake(s) Ezquiel Ramos Mexía Reservoir, Los Barreales Reservoir, Mari Menuco Reservoir
Basin type Foreland basin
Plate South American
Orogeny Andean
Age Jurassic-Holocene
Stratigraphy Vaca Muerta, Los Molles
Faults Huincul

Jurassic and Cretaceous marine transgressions from the Pacific are recorded in the sediments of Neuquén Basin. These marine sediments belong to Cuyo Group, Tordillo Formation, Auquilco Formation and Vaca Muerta Formation.[3] In the Late Cretaceous conditions in the neighboring Andean orogeny changed. A marine regression occurred and the fold and thrust belts of Malargüe (36°00 S), Chos Malal (37° S) and Agrio (38° S) started to develop in the Andes and did so in until Eocene times. This meant an advance of the Andean orogenic deformation since the Late Cretaceous that made the western part of Neuquén Basin to stack in the Malargüe and Agrio fold and thrust belts.[3][4] In the south of Mendoza Province the Guañacos fold and thrust belt (36.5° S) appeared and grew in the Pliocene and Pleistocene consuming the western fringes of the Neuquén Basin.[3][4]

The Huincul basement high or Huincul ridge (Spanish: dorsal de Huincul) is a geological structure that divides Neuquén Basin in two parts.[5][6] The basement high is one of the most studied features of Neuquén Basin given its importance for hydrocarbon exploration and exploitation.[6] All over the basement high runs an approximate length of 250 kilometres (160 mi).[6] There have been proposals on the nature of this structure. In the 1970s and 1980s it was proposed by that it was a transpressive fault zone.[5][6] Later Pángaro described it as being made up of inverted half-grabens.[6]


  1. ^ "Cuenca Neuquina". Secretaría de Energía (in Spanish). Government of Argentina. Retrieved 30 November 2015. 
  2. ^ Howell et al., 2005
  3. ^ a b c Rojas Vera, Emilio Agustín; Orts, Darío L.; Folguera, Andrés; Zamora Valcarce, Gonzalo; Bottesi, Germán; Fennell, Lucas; Chiachiarelli, Francisco; Ramos, Víctor A. (2016). "The Transitional Zone Between the Southern Central and Northern Patagonian Andes (36–39°S)". In Folguera, Andrés; Naipauer, Maximiliano; Sagripanti, Lucía; Ghiglione, Matías C.; Orts, Darío L.; Giambiagi, Laura. Growth of the Southern Andes. Springer. pp. 99–114. ISBN 978-3-319-23060-3. 
  4. ^ a b Ramos, Víctor A.; Mahlburg Kay, Suzanne (2006). "Overview of the tectonic evolution of the southern Central Andes of Mendoza and Neuquén (35°–39°S latitude)". In Mahlburg Kay, Suzanne; Ramos, Víctor A. Evolution of an Andean Margin: A Tectonic and Magmatic View from the Andes to the Neuquén Basin (35–39°S lat). pp. 1–17. 
  5. ^ a b Mosquera & Ramos, 2006
  6. ^ a b c d e Pángaro et al., 2009


Further readingEdit