Tectonostratigraphic evolution of the Andean Orogen in Chile
Since the comprehensive synthesis on the Argentine–Chilean Andes by Mpodozis & Ramos (1989), important progress has been made on the stratigraphy, palaeogeographic evolution and tectonic development of the Andean Orogen in Chile. We present here an overview of this evolution considering the new information and interpretations, including some unpublished ideas of the authors. To enable the reader to delve further into the subjects treated here, we accompany the text with abundant references. In the interpretation of the stratigraphic and radioisotopic data we used the timescale of Harland et al. (1989).
During most of its history the continental margin of South America was an active plate margin. The Late Proterozoic to Late Palaeozoic evolution was punctuated by terrane accretion and westward arc migration, and can be described as a ‘collisional history’. Although accretion of some terranes has been documented for the post-Triassic history, the evolution during post-Triassic times is characterized more by the eastward retreat of the continental margin and eastward arc migration, attributed to subduction erosion, and therefore can be described as an ‘erosional history’. The intermediate period, comprising the Late Permian and the Triassic, corresponds to an episode of no, or very slow, subduction activity along the continental margin, during which a totally different palaeogeographic organization was developed and a widely distributed magmatism with essentially different affinities occurred. It is therefore possible to differentiate major stages in the tectonostratigraphic evolution of the Chilean Andes, which can be related to the following episodes of supercontinent evolution: (1) post-Pangaea
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This book is the first comprehensive account in English of the geology of Chile, providing a key reference work that brings together many years of research, and written mostly by Chilean authors from various universities and other centres of research excellence. The 13 chapters begin with a general overview, followed by detailed accounts of Andean tectonostratigraphy and magmatism, the amazingly active volcanism, the world class ore deposits that have proven to be so critical to the welfare of the country, and Chilean water resources. The subject then turns to geophysics with an examination of neotectonics and earthquakes, the hazardous frequency of which is a daily fact of life for the Chilean population. There are chapters on the offshore geology and oceanography of the SE Pacific Ocean, subjects that continue to attract much research not least from those seeking to understand world climatic variations, and on late Quaternary land environments, concluding with an account examining human colonization of southernmost America.
During his voyage on H.M.S. Beagle, an extended visit to Chile (1834-35) had a profound impact on Charles Darwin, especially on his understanding of volcanoes, earthquakes and tsunamis. Over more recent decades scientists have come to recognize the Chilean Andes as providing the classic example of a mountain belt produced by oceanic subduction beneath a continent, as well as some of the most dramatic scenic and climatic variations on Earth. In the final chapter, the editors offer a description of a drive from the Mediterranean landscapes of central Chile to the hyperarid Atacama Desert, a contribution designed to give visitors a chance to experience for themselves the geology and scenery of this extraordinary country.