IRTG-StRATEGy: Structural and thermal 3D modelling of the Chaco-Paraná Paraná foreland basin of the Argentinian Andes

The Chaco-Paraná Basin is located east of the Sierras Pampeanas and the Santa Barbara System. The basin has been a depocenter since the early Paleozoic and has been under strong influence of the Andean orogeny since the Cenozoic. In the basin, a gradient of different deformation styles developed due to the Andean orogeny. This project aims to construct a data-consistent, integrated three-dimensional structural model of the Chaco-Paraná Basin on a lithospheric scale. The model will be used to analyse the present-day thermal and structural states to better understand the evolution of the basin.

The DFG graduate school “IRTG-StRATEGy” comprises a set of projects that aim to study the coupling between tectonics, climate, erosion, sedimentation and hydrocarbon potential in the central Andes and their foreland basins. Funded by the DFG, the German-Argentinian graduate school is a cooperation between the University of Potsdam and the GFZ Potsdam, together with CONICET and several Argentinian universities. During the first phase of the project from 2015 to 2018, 12 PhD students in each country will study the Andean geology within one of four Working Packages (WP):

  • WP1: Climate-tectonic impacts on surface processes
  • WP2: Interplay between tectonics and inherited crustal inhomogeneities
  • WP3: Basin modelling and georesource formation
  • WP4: Metallogenesis of metal deposits in felsic magmas

The project about the thermal and structural configuration of the Chaco-Paraná Basin is part of WP3. To understand the structural and thermal configuration of the lithosphere, it is important to interpret all available information. Primary data required are vertical and lateral changes in basin infill, as well as variations in thickness and composition of the crust and the lithospheric mantle. Information will be obtained, i.e., from refraction/reflection seismics, well logs, seismic tomography, receiver functions, or other publications and geological maps. The evaluated and interpreted data will then implemented into an initial three-dimensional structural model that will be populated with lithology-dependent densities. During an interactive modelling approach in IGMAS+ (© PotentialGS), the density model will be adjusted in order to fit a calculated and measured gravity field. This data constrained density distribution enables to infer lithological and thermal properties of the modelled geological units. These properties will then be used to estimate the present-day thermal and rheological state of the lithosphere beneath the Chaco-Paraná Basin. The three-dimensional models constructed in this study will describe the present-day physical state of the lithosphere. Hence, they are a valuable starting point to reconstruct the tectonic history of the area. The tectonic history will be evaluated in terms of isostatic and flexural mechanisms. This study will be elaborated in close cooperation with different projects in IRTG-StRATEGy. Thereby, i.e., detailed information on sediment thickness and facies distribution from other projects will be implemented into the present-day structural model. Results from this model, i.e. heat flow, will in turn be implemented as boundary condition into small scale models.

More information about IRT-StRATEGy (


Christian Meeßen
PhD Student
M. Sc. Christian Meeßen
Basin Modelling
Building C 4 , Room 1.13 A
14473 Potsdam
+49 331 288-1983
Judith Sippel
Group Leader
Dr. Judith Sippel
Basin Modelling
Building C 4 , Room 1.10
14473 Potsdam
+49 331 288-1342