Cooling and Exhumation of the Coastal Batholith in the Peruvian Andes (5-12°S)
Tuesday, 16 December 2014
The South American Andes exhibit strong morphological differences along strike, shaped by a combination of tectonic forces and surface processes. In the central Peruvian Andes (~12°S) a major morphological transition occurs; to the north, the spines of the Western and Eastern Cordilleras come together into a relatively narrow configuration of high topography. In Southern Peru, the region of high topography widens, where the Western and Eastern Cordilleras flank the broad, Altiplano plateau. Despite this morphological change, the Mesozoic-early Cenozoic Coastal Batholith outcrops continuously from 0°-18°S along the western margin of the Peruvian Andes, emplaced along a trench-parallel marginal basin in the Mesozoic. The Coastal Batholith is an ideal geologic setting to investigate potential differences in rock exhumation and cooling histories along the western margin of Peru. While the cooling history of the southern Coastal Batholith has been previously used to estimate timing and magnitude of rock exhumation in Southern Peru, north of 12°S it is poorly constrained. We present 16 zircon and 7 apatite (U-Th)/He mean-ages from three sites, across seven degrees of latitude (5°S to 12°S). In general, ZHe and AHe ages capture two stages of cooling, Oligocene-to-mid-Miocene and mid-to-late Miocene, respectively. We model time-temperature histories of samples with paired AHe and ZHe ages using a Monte-Carlo inversion of HeFTy® (Ketcham, 2005); best fit time-temperature pathways show cooling rates ranging from ~2-24°C/my, where fastest cooling rates are generally observed in the mid-Miocene. To estimate exhumation rates, we apply a simple thermal model to account for nonuniform geothermal gradients expected in a trench-arc setting. Exhumation rates range from ~0.2mm/yr in the north, to 0.4-0.7mm/yr in the south, and rates increase orogenward, where mean elevation is highest. These results, particularly the predominance of Miocene ZHe and AHe data, and the younging eastward pattern of cooling, suggest that a mid-to-late Miocene crustal cooling event affected the entire Coastal Batholith of Peru, with higher rates of exhumation in the core of the range. This may imply a broad-scale, regional mechanism, such as enhanced rock exhumation due to a regional climate change, or a change in plate kinematics.