Revisiting mountain-building in the Andes of Central Chile: constraints from structural geology and thermochronology.

Wednesday, 16 December 2015: 16:15
304 (Moscone South)
Magali Riesner1, Robin Lacassin1, Martine Simoes2, Rolando Armijo1 and Daniel Carrizo3, (1)Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris, Paris, France, (2)IPGP, CNRS UMR 7154, Paris Cedex, France, (3)University of Chile, Advanced Mining Technology Center, Department of Geology, Santiago, Chile
The Andes, one of the most significant reliefs on Earth, is the case example of a subduction-type mountain belt. In central Chile and western Argentina, the particular east-vergent structure of the Aconcagua fold-and-thrust belt (AFTB) is found atop a huge basement high with elevations > 4000 m, the Frontal Cordillera.

Classical conceptual models consider the Andes as an east-vergent orogen, opposite to the Nazca subduction, and describe the exhumation of the Frontal Cordillera as an eastward in-sequence event that occurred late in the andean deformation (by ~10My). An alternative model recently challenged this view by proposing that the Andes have mainly a primary westward vergence. Within this scheme, the exhumation of the Frontal Cordillera would have begun earlier, by ~25My, synchronous with formation of the AFTB on the western side of the basement high. Here we test these two models by revisiting structural cross-sections of the Andes at the latitude of Santiago de Chile and of the Aconcagua (~33°S). We provide thermochronological constraints on the timing of exhumation of the Frontal Cordillera by (U-Th)/He dating on apatites retrieved from paleozoic granitoids along a 2,3km high nearly vertical section in the core of the basement high. Preliminary results suggest that the Frontal Cordillera exhumation was not a late event and likely began around 25 Ma. Therefore it appears to be synchronous with deformation within the AFTB and the westernmost fold-and-thrust belt at this latitude. We discuss these results and their implications while building a crustal-scale cross section of the range at the latitude of Santiago de Chile.