Abstract

The impact of subduction processes on surface uplift and relief building in the Andes is not well understood. In northern Peru, we have access to a modern flat subduction zone (3°–15°S) where both the geometry and timing of the flattening of the slab are well constrained. Some of the highest Andean peaks, the Cordillera Blanca (6768 m) and the Cordillera Negra (5187 m), are located just above the Peruvian flat slab. This is a perfect target to explore the impact of slab flattening and associated magmatism on Andean topography and uplift. We present new apatite (U-Th)/He and fission-track data from three vertical profiles in the Cordillera Blanca and the Cordillera Negra. Time-temperature inverse modeling of the thermochronological data suggests that regional exhumation in the Cordillera Occidental started at ca. 15 Ma, synchronous with the onset of subduction of the Nazca Ridge and eastward movement of regional magmatism. We propose that ridge subduction at 15 Ma and onset of slab flattening drove regional surface uplift, with an important contribution of magmatism to relief building in the Cordillera Occidental.

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