The northern Andes could either be called a very wide plate margin, or an area of intraplate distributed deformation. At its apex, the northern Andes reach 5500 m elevation, nearly 600 km inboard from the margin (this is as far inland as the Sierras Pampeanas in Argentina). This part of the Andean belt is characterized by northeast-trending, wide deformation belts that turn eastwardly to define the sharp southern Caribbean plate boundary to the east. Regardless of kinematic model preferences, or reconstruction methodologies, any attempt to map deformation in the northern Andes and the southern Caribbean plate should honor known strain datasets and chronology of deformation in a way that allows quantification of wide- area deformation. We compiled all available strain datasets. These include shortening estimates, paleomagnetic declination data, and discrete kinematic markers. Shortening in the northern Andes has traditionally been estimated by constructing cross-sections perpendicular to the main structural trends, therefore missing any along-strike deformation. Recent GPS data confirms that modern convergence vectors are oblique to main structural trends, not orthogonal. Despite differences in interpretation and structural style, cross-sections across the Eastern cordillera of Colombia show roughly consistent shortening values. A paleomagnetic dataset shows that large vertical-axis clockwise rotations are dominant in the northwestern corner of South America and southern Caribbean margin, but absent in the Eastern cordillera. Vertical-axis rotations are again large in the Central American arc. Paleogeographic piercing points such as stranded high-grade clasts, displaced metamorphic belts, and provenance analyses, constrain strike-slip faulting, where often several hundreds of kilometers of displacement can be inferred. Combining all of these datasets into a single kinematic reconstruction (using freeware GPlates), that also respects known timing of deformation, produces a more complete picture of deformation. This palinspastic reconstruction shows the transition from deformation along a complex, active margin (Nazca and Caribbean), to diffuse deformation within the South American Plate several hundreds of kilometers from these active margins.
AGU Fall Meeting Abstracts
- Pub Date:
- December 2017
- 7218 Lithosphere;
- 8108 Continental tectonics: compressional;
- 8169 Sedimentary basin processes;
- 8170 Subduction zone processes;