New Apatite and Zircon (U-Th)/He Constraints on the Timing of Thrust-Related Exhumation in the Southern Bolivian (21˚S) Andes
Wednesday, 17 December 2014
Data suggesting rapid middle Miocene uplift of the southern Altiplano prompts resolving disagreements over the geometry, magnitude, and timing of Andean deformation in southern Bolivia (21°S) in order to test geodynamic responses of the thrust belt predicted by the Cordilleran cyclicity model. New apatite and zircon (U-Th)/He data combined with published apatite fission track data (AFT), new 1:50:000-scale mapping, and in-progress drafting of a balanced cross-section provide new insight into the geometry and timing of deformation, and the timing and rates of exhumation. Mapping was focused along an east-west transect through the Subandean Zone (SAZ), Interandean Zone (IAZ), and Eastern Cordillera (EC). Regional-scale folds (~10-20 km wavelength, ~4-6 km amplitude) in the SAZ exhume rocks as deep as Carboniferous above a 10-12 km deep decollemont in Silurian rocks. In the IAZ, thinner (~1-4 km), closely-spaced thrust sheets exhume Devonian and Silurian rocks, and a regional-scale anticlinorium in the easternmost EC exhumes rocks as deep as Cambrian and Ordovician. 11 new apatite and 5 new zircon (U-Th)/He cooling ages provide timing constraints on the initiation of thrust-related exhumation. Zircon cooling ages (32.8±1.4 to 25.4±1.2 Ma) reveal initiation of exhumation in the easternmost EC as early as ~32 Ma, and an exhumed partial retention zone at the EC-IAZ boundary. Apatite ages in the IAZ range from 21.71±0.77 to 7.45±0.20 Ma, and consistently young to the east. Exhumation was previously thought to have begun in the IAZ at ~10 Ma, but our results show thrust-related exhumation as early as ~22 Ma, in agreement with published AFT data that show that deformation had propagated eastward into the IAZ by at least ~18 Ma. In the western SAZ, apatite cooling ages of 6.10±0.17 and 4.84±0.14 Ma demonstrate that thrust-related uplift and exhumation in the western SAZ had begun by at least the late Miocene. These new data show a consistent eastward propagation of thrust-related uplift and exhumation from the eastern EC to the western SAZ between ~32 and ~5 Ma. Integration of these data with sequential restoration of a balanced cross-section will provide a temporal record of shortening rates, which will allow testing of predicted feedback responses of the Andean thrust belt to middle Miocene uplift of the southern Altiplano.