The Bolivian Orocline and its implications for the origin of the central Andes
Wednesday, 16 December 2015: 14:25
304 (Moscone South)
The tectonic evolution of the Central Andes includes a complex combination of thrusting, wrenching and block rotation leading progressively to the curvature of the orogenic system of the South American continental margin at 18ºS (Bolivian Orocline). Tectonic deformation in the Bolivian Orocline cannot be realistically restored using information from balanced cross sections alone, as the deformation includes an important component of block rotation, associated to counterclockwise block rotation in southern Peru and clockwise rotation in northern Chile. Recent work shows that block rotations in the forearc are essentially pre-early Miocene, predating the onset of Neogene shortening in the Sub Andean zone. Most rotations in the forearc of northern Chile where acquired through a single tectonic event during the Paleogene-early Miocene which probably coincides with the Eocene orogen-wide Incaic event which affected large regions of the central Andes between ca. 50 and 40 Ma. Results from 2D restoration experiments support the hypothesis of the Paleogene formation of the Bolivian Orocline, as a consequence of differential shortening, concentrated in the Eastern Cordillera of Bolivia, southern Peru and northwestern Argentina. Within the southern central Andes four additional curvatures including striking changes in the pattern of rotations have been discovered. From north to south these are the Antofagasta-Calama Lineament, Vallenar, Maipo and Arauco oroclines. However, an important part of rotation needs to be balanced, in the forearc region, by two major conjugate oblique shear zones (Abancay Deflection and Antofagasta-Calama Lineament). These structural features are probably related to inherited lithospheric discontinuities associated with the accretion of basement terranes which could be responsible for producing and delimitating significant and abrupt changes in the magnitude of the Central Andean Rotation Pattern along the margin. While shortening and crustal thickening concentrated in the weak Andean arc and Eastern Cordillera, passive transport of large basement terrane blocks on top of the flowing ductile lower crust in the forearc region was accompanied by block rotations along vertical axis which, at the end, may have originated most of the Central Andean Rotation Pattern.