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Book Chapter

Tectonic Assembly of the Northern Andean Block

By
Fabio Cediel
Fabio Cediel
Geotec Ltda., Bogotá, Colombia
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Robert P. Shaw
Robert P. Shaw
Geotec Ltda., Bogotá, Colombia
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Carlos Cáceres
Carlos Cáceres
Geotec Ltda., Bogotá, Colombia
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Published:
January 01, 2003

Abstract

Based primarily on geologic field observations as recorded by numerous geoscientists over the last three decades, backed by more recent geochemical, seismic, gravity, magnetic, tomographic, and satellite-based techniques, an integrated synthesis and interpretation of the tectonic assembly of the entire Northern Andean Block (the Andes of Ecuador, Colombia, and Venezuela) is presented. Tectonic reconstruction is based on the identification and characterization of more than 30 distinct lithotectonic and morphostructural units (including terranes, terrane assemblages, physiographic domains, etc.) and their bounding suture and fault systems, which, based on geologic, geophysical, and dynamo-tectonic considerations, define four distinct tectonic realms representing the entire Northern Andean region. These include the Guiana Shield Realm (GSR), the Maracaibo subplate Realm (MSP), the Central Continental subplate Realm (CCSP), and the Western Tectonic Realm (WTR). The GSR provided the backstop for the progressive, accretionary continental growth of northwestern South America in the middle–late Proterozoic, in the middle Paleozoic, and finally during the Mesozoic-Cenozoic Northern Andean orogeny. Middle Cretaceous through Miocene time slices illustrate how, beginning in the Aptian, the sequential dextral-oblique accretion of the allochthonous oceanic WTR along the Pacific margin acted simultaneously with the northwest migration of the MSP (a detached segment of the Guiana Shield) into and over the Caribbean plate, exerting enormous transpression upon the CCSP trapped between them. Each tectonic realm contributed distinct tectonic mechanisms during Northern Andean “cause and response” orogenesis, and each realm records a unique internal deformational style, which in large part provides the basis for realm definition. Additionally, based on lithologic, geochemical, and paleomagnetic data and paleogeographic reconstructions, the intimate and complementary Mesozoic-Cenozoic history of the Northern Andean Block and the Caribbean plate are recognized. The migratory path of the Caribbean plate along the western and northern margin of the South American craton, as recorded by the accretionary history of the allochthonous WTR, has been instrumental in the modern-day configuration of the Northern Andean Block.

Throughout this paper, the importance and contribution of underlying Proterozoic through middle Mesozoic geostructural elementsinthe development of Mesozoic-Cenozoic Northern Andean orogeny-phase tectonic configuration (structural style, uplift mechanisms, basin development, magmatism, etc.) are stressed. Additionally, the complex reality of Northern Andean Block assembly is contrasted with “classical” Central Andean “Cordilleran-type” orogenic models, and numerous differences are illustrated that render the application of typical Cordilleran-type models unacceptable. These differences are exemplified by the highly oblique collision/accretion/subduction tectonics of allochthonous oceanic terranes in the WTR, the detachment, migration and plis de fond–style of deformation in the MSP and the unique, transpressive pop-up of the Eastern Cordillerain the CCSP, all of which have no geologic analog in the Central Andes.

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AAPG Memoir

The Circum-Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean: Hydrocarbon Habitats, Basin Formation and Plate Tectonics

Claudio Bartolini
Claudio Bartolini
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Richard T. Buffler
Richard T. Buffler
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Jon F. Blickwede
Jon F. Blickwede
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American Association of Petroleum Geologists
Volume
79
ISBN electronic:
9781629810546
Publication date:
January 01, 2003

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