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Hinterland basin formation and gravitational instabilities in the central Andes: Constraints from gravity data and geodynamic models

By
Huilin Wang
Huilin Wang
Department of Physics, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB T6G 2E1, Canada
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Claire A. Currie
Claire A. Currie
Department of Physics, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB T6G 2E1, Canada
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Peter G. DeCelles
Peter G. DeCelles
Department of Geosciences, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona 85721, USA
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Published:
January 01, 2015

The evolution of surface topography in an orogen provides information about the dynamics of the deep lithosphere. Within the high-elevation Altiplano-Puna Plateau of the central Andes, there are several local basins (~100 km wide) that sit >500 m lower than the surrounding plateau. These areas correspond to positive isostatic gravity anomalies, indicating high density in the lithosphere. There are also examples of former basins that are now at high elevation (e.g., the Miocene Arizaro Basin), suggesting that the basins are transient features that may be related to convective removal of lithosphere. Two-dimensional numerical models are used to investigate the topographic expression associated with removal of a high-density lithosphere root. A key result is that the presence of thick orogenic crust, as found in the Altiplano-Puna Plateau, can greatly affect the surface deflection above the detaching root. Three types of deflection are observed: (1) >500 m subsidence, followed by uplift, (2) little subsidence, and (3) uplift followed by collapse. The main control on the deflection is the viscous coupling between the root and surface, which decreases with increased root depth or weaker crust. If the crust is weak, the dense root induces crustal flow, resulting in thickened crust and either limited subsidence or uplift above the dripping lithosphere. Significant subsidence only occurs if the deep crust is relatively strong and the density anomaly is located within the crust. To produce surface deflection over a width of ~100 km, the near-surface rocks must be relatively weak.

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GSA Memoirs

Geodynamics of a Cordilleran Orogenic System: The Central Andes of Argentina and Northern Chile

Peter G. DeCelles
Peter G. DeCelles
Department of Geosciences, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona, USA
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Mihai N. Ducea
Mihai N. Ducea
Department of Geosciences, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona, USA, and Universitatea Bucuresti, Facultatea de Geologie Geofizica, Strada N. Balcescu Nr 1, Bucuresti, Romania
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Barbara Carrapa
Barbara Carrapa
Department of Geosciences, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona, USA
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Paul A. Kapp
Paul A. Kapp
Department of Geosciences, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona, USA
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Geological Society of America
Volume
212
ISBN print:
9780813712123
Publication date:
January 01, 2015

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