Tectonic and Climatic Implications of Late Miocene to Pleistocene (5.8-1.8 Ma) Paleo-Erosion Rates from the Rio Iruya Canyon, Northwest Argentina (23°S)

Monday, 14 December 2015
Poster Hall (Moscone South)
G. Burch Fisher1, William H Amidon2, Lisa V Luna2 and Douglas W Burbank3, (1)University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX, United States, (2)Middlebury College, Middlebury, VT, United States, (3)University of California Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA, United States
One fundamental hypothesis that underpins tectonic geomorphology is that climate can modify the pattern and magnitude of erosion in orogenic landscapes and in turn control deformation. While conceptually appealing, empirical evidence is often ambiguous owing to the inherent spatial coupling between present-day tectonic and precipitation maxima and/or the long-term blurring of climate signals by thermochronologic techniques. Although cosmogenic nuclides provide considerable insight into centennial to millennial scale tectonic-erosion-climate linkages, extracting long-term records of erosion from older sedimentary deposits has proved challenging. If successful, such records have the potential to reveal long-term relationships between erosion, uplift, and climate, which should integrate over time to match long term exhumation rates obtained from low temperature thermochronology. Here we utilize a unique field setting along a 100-m deep, young canyon (~100 years old) along the Rio Iruya in northwestern Argentina to create a high-resolution (~100 kyr) terrestrial record of paleo-erosion rates in the eastern Cordillera spanning the late Miocene to Pleistocene (5.8-1.8 Mya). In total, 49 cosmogenic 10Be samples were analyzed along with detailed magnetostratigraphy, U-Pb tephra ages, detrital zircon, and quartz trace elements to yield a detailed paleo-erosion rate, chronology, and provenance record for the Rio Iruya section. Apparent erosion rates occur in three different regimes: from 5.8-4.0 Ma rates are high with little variability, from 4.0- 2.3 Ma rates oscillate by a factor of 5 on a ~400 kyr timescale, and from 2.3-1.8 Ma they are again high without clear oscillations. These three regimes correspond to changes in provenance recorded by detrital zircons and quartz chemistry, and suggest that during the late Pliocene the eastern Cordillera was responding strongly to the 400 kyr eccentricity paced orbital frequency. This unique finding is both perplexing and encouraging as it argues for a coupling of sediment flux to broad-scale climate teleconnections and may evidence a frequency dependent response of the Andean orogen to climate oscillations, consistent with recent numerical and theoretical models.