Tectonic Evolution of the Patagonian Orocline: New Insights from a Paleomagnetic Study in Southernmost America
Tuesday, 15 December 2015
Poster Hall (Moscone South)
One of the most noteworthy features of the Southern Andes is its bend, where the orogenic trend and main tectonic provinces change from Andean N-S oriented structures to W-E orientations in Tierra del Fuego. Few paleomagnetic studies have been carried out, and whether the bending is a primary curvature or a true orocline is still matter of controversy; also the mechanism of its formation. We have conducted a paleomagnetic study between 50°S to ~56°S, where 146 sites were drilled. Paleomagnetic data were obtained in 44 sites. Results in Early Cretaceous sediments and volcanics rocks confirm a remagnetization event during the mid-Cretaceous and record ~90° of counterclockwise rotation. Paleomagnetic results in mid-Cretaceous intrusives rocks record large counterclockwise rotation (>90°) while Late Cretaceous-Early Eocene intrusive rocks only record ~45° to ~30°. The paleomagnetic results reveal a systematic pattern of rotation—the Fueguian rotation pattern—suggesting that the curvature of Patagonia would have occurred in two stages: the first stage during the collapse and obduction of the Rocas Verdes basin in the mid-Cretaceous and a second stage between the Late Cretaceous and the Paleocene, concomitant with exhumation of Cordillera Darwin and propagation of the fold and thrust belt into the Magallanes foreland. Integrating this result in plate reconstructions shows the Antarctic Peninsula as a prolongation of Patagonia and would have acted as a non-rotational rigid block, facilitating the development of the Patagonia Bend. This land bridge could be a dispersal mechanism for fauna between Australia and South America and would have restricted deep ocean water circulation.