Lateral Variations of Fission-Track Cooling Ages along the Southern Peruvian Coast Reveal Coast-Parallel Extension during the Eocene and Oligocene.
Abstract:Proterozoic metamorphic rocks largely crop out between ~14 and ~17°S along the coast of southern Peru. Previous thermochronological studies in this belt focused on the Late Neogene cooling history and yielded Late Paleozoic to mid-Cretaceous zircon U-Th/He and fission-track ages, and Late Cretaceous to Early Paleocene apatite fission-track ages.
Our study aims at extending the fission-track database in the ~300 km-long, high-grade metamorphic Atico-Mollendo Block (AMB; 15.8-17.1°S), in order to understand the lateral variations of thermochronologic ages along the Pacific coast of southern Peru.
We present new apatite and zircon fission-track ages from the AMB and interpret them along with the previously published dates from this block and its surrounding areas. The apatite fission-track data show a longitudinal variation pattern with two localized shifts from younger (60 Ma) to older (~90 Ma) dates, corresponding to the northwestern and southeastern borders of the AMB. These shifts coincide in the field with two major normal fault zones that strike perpendicular to the coast and bound the AMB, and had been understated until now. Given the offsetted ages, the faults were active after 60 Ma, and tilted the AMB down to the NW. This interpretation is consistent with the fact that the metamorphic grade of the basement increases towards the SE, and with the deposition between ~55 and 30 Ma of forearc continental deposits (Lower Moquegua Group) that exhibit numerous synsedimentary extensional features. The zircon fission-track age pattern is more complicated but can be interpreted either as (i) reflecting a partial reset of the whole area due to burial during the Jurassic and Early Cretaceous, or (ii) as the reactivation of an important Carboniferous detachment fault during the ~100–80 Ma interval.
We suggest that this coast-parallel Eocene-Oligocene extension accommodated the counterclockwise block rotation of the southern Peruvian forearc that accompanied the inception of the Bolivian Orocline around ~30 Ma.