Cooling History for the Sierra Laguna Blanca (NW Argentina) on the Southern Puna Plateau, Central Andes

Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Renjie Zhou1, Lindsay M Schoenbohm1, Edward R Sobel2, Daniel F Stockli3 and Johannes Glodny4, (1)University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada, (2)University of Potsdam, Potsdam, Germany, (3)University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX, United States, (4)GeoForschungsZentrum Potsdam, Potsdam, Germany
Various dynamic models have been proposed to explain deformation history and topographic evolution for the southern Altiplano-Puna Plateau, including inversion of the Cretaceous Salta rift structures, formation of an orogenic wedge, flat subduction, climate-tectonic coupling, and lithospheric foundering. Controversies persist in the southern Puna Plateau, where preexisting rift structures are unknown and Cenozoic shortening events are sparsely documented. The 6-km high Sierra Laguna Blanca (LB) (NW Argentina) is among the most outstanding topographic features in the interior of the southern Puna Plateau. We document cooling history for LB with apatite (U-Th)/He, apatite fission-track and zircon (U-Th)/He thermochronometers for a vertical profile from 3.6-5.6 km on its eastern flank. Preliminary results from apatite fission-track (AFT) analysis yield ages ranging from 45-65 Ma, with top samples being the oldest. Dpar values for all samples are low (1.54 to 1.74), suggesting a relatively low-temperature partial annealing zone. All samples have shortened mean track lengths ranging from 10.9 to 12.3 micrometers, suggesting partial resetting. Preliminary apatite U-Th/He (AHe) ages are compatible with AFT ages but are widely dispersed, perhaps due to U zoning and small U-rich inclusions which have been observed on AFT external detectors. Inverse modeling of AFT data and selected AHe data using the HeFTy program reveal two major cooling events for LB. All models start ~90-70 Ma and immediately decrease their temperatures to ~60°C before ~50 Ma. Samples may have stayed ~60°C without additional thermal events until ~15-10 Ma, when the most recent cooling event took place, bringing all samples to surface temperature. Our first finding is that the interior of the southern Puna Plateau may have been influenced by the Salta Rift during the Cretaceous, extending the known zone of influence further west. Second, the most recent cooling phase (mid-late Miocene) is consistent with out-of-sequence deformation in the southern Puna Plateau, which might be genetically linked to a proposed lithospheric dripping event.