Tectonic Evolution of the Central Andes during Mesozoic-Cenozoic times: Insights from the Salar de Atacama Basin
Tuesday, 15 December 2015
Poster Hall (Moscone South)
The classic Salar de Atacama Basin, located in the Central Andes of northern Chile, holds a remarkable yet not fully understood record of tectonic events since mid-Cretaceous times. Based on the growing amount of data collected over the last years, such as high-detail maps and U-Pb geochronology, we present an updated model for the development of this area after the Triassic. A major compressional event is recorded around the mid-Late Cretaceous (ca. 107 Ma) with the deposition of synorogenic continental successions reflecting the uplift of the Coastal Cordillera area farther to the west, and effectively initiating the foreland basin. The deformation front migrated eastwards during the Late Campanian (ca. 79 Ma), where it exhumed and deformed the Late Cretaceous magmatic arc and the crystalline basement of Cordillera de Domeyko. The K-T Event (ca. 65 Ma), recently identified in the basin, involved the same source areas, though the facies indicate a closer proximity to the source. The compressional record of the basin is continued by the Eocene Incaic Event (ca. 45 Ma), with deep exhumation of the Cordillera de Domeyko and the cannibalization of previous deposits. A change to an extensional regime during the Oligocene (ca. 28 Ma) is shown by the deposition of more than 4 km of evaporitic and clastic successions. A partial inversion of the basin occurred during the Miocene (ca.10 Ma-present), as shown by the deformation seen in the Cordillera de la Sal. As such, the basin shows that the uplift of the Cordillera de Domeyko was not one isolated episode, but a prolonged and complex event, punctuated by episodes of major deformation. It also highlights the need to take into account the Mesozoic-Cenozoic deformation events for any model trying to explain the building of the modern-day Andes.