Dynamics and Upper Mantle Structure Beneath the Northwestern Andes: Subduction Segments, Moho Depth, and Possible Relationships to Mantle Flow

Monday, 15 December 2014: 5:30 PM
Gaspar Monsalve1, Jefferson Yarce1, Thorsten W Becker2, Robert W Porritt2, Agustin Cardona1, Esteban Poveda3 and Gustavo A Posada1, (1)Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Facultad de Minas, Medellín, Colombia, (2)University of Southern California, Department of Earth Sciences, Los Angeles, CA, United States, (3)Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Norte (UFRN), Natal, Brazil
The northwestern South American plate shows a complex tectonic setting whose causes and relationship to mantle structure are still debated. We combine different techniques to elucidate some of the links between slabs and surface deformation in Colombia. Crustal structure beneath the Northern Andes was inferred from receiver functions where we find thicknesses of nearly 60 km beneath the plateau of the Eastern Cordillera and underneath the southern volcanic area of the Central Cordillera. We infer that such crustal thickening resulted from shortening, magmatic addition, and accretion-subduction. Analyses of relative teleseismic travel time delays and estimates of residual surface topography based on our new crustal model suggest that there are at least two subduction segments underneath the area. The Caribbean slab lies at a low angle beneath northernmost Colombia and steepens beneath the Eastern Cordillera. Such steepening is indicated by negative travel time relative residuals in the area of the Bucaramanga Nest, implying a cold anomaly in the upper mantle, and by positive residual topography just off the east of this area, perhaps generated by slab-associated return flow. Results for the western Andes and the Pacific coastal plains are consistent with “normal” subduction of the Nazca plate: travel time relative residuals there are predominantly positive, and the residual topography shows an W-E gradient, going from positive at the Pacific coastline to negative at the Magdalena Valley, which separates the eastern cordillera from the rest of the Colombian Andean system.

Azimuthal analysis of relative travel time residuals further suggests the presence of seismically slow materials beneath the central part of the Eastern Cordillera. Azimuthal anisotropy from SKS splitting in that region indicates that seismically fast orientations do not follow plate convergence, different from what we find for the western Colombian Andes and the Caribbean and Pacific coastal plains. This may possibly indicate slab-continental keel interactions and N-S squeezing of the asthenosphere. This area has an associated young volcanism of alkaline affinity that probably suggests some type of asthenospheric mantle input.