Abstract

Aconcagua Province is herein divided into three major structural provinces which, for the sake of simplicity, are named the Coastal Cordillera, Central Valley graben, and Andean Cordillera structural provinces to correspond to the three geomorphic provinces recognized farther south.

The coastal structural province includes the Coastal Cordillera which is underlain mainly by layered sedimentary and effusive rocks that strike north and dip homoclinally to the east, range from Triassic to Late Cretaceous in age, and are intruded by Cretaceous granodioritic and dioritic rocks. Igneous and metamorphic rocks largely of Paleozoic age comprise the western coastal margin, Along the eastern edge of the province is the Los Angeles fault zone, a wide, poorly defined band of semiparallel, arcuate faults which show downward displacement to the east and which appear to have resulted mainly from intrusion and uplift on the west. The Coastal Cordillera, therefore, may be considered a large horst with an intrusive granodiorite core.

The Central Valley graben is bounded on the west by the Los Angeles fault zone and on the east by the Pocuro fault zone. Between these two fault zones is an area 20–30 km wide in which volcanic rocks of Late Cretaceous age are flat lying to gently folded and block faulted. In places, pipelike stocks of andesitic to dioritic igneous rock intrude the area. The Pocuro fault zone is a prominent lineament that marks the eastern limit of the Central Valley at Santiago and has been traced northward for 150 km. It may, however, have a mappable length of more than 1200 km. Vertical displacement downward to the west has been measured near Los Andes to be at least 2000 m. Consequently, this fault zone may rank among the major faults of the world.

The Andean structural province is subdivided into the Las Ollas and Juncal subprovinces. The Las Ollas is a mountainous front range that lies east of the Pocuro fault and extends eastward for about 25 km. Upper Cretaceous volcanic strata are gently warped into broad, open, north-trending folds, with local sharp flexures and faulted mainly by normal faults. The eastern part of the subprovince is cut by a narrow belt of Tertiary plutonic rocks, some of which are associated with porphyry copper deposits. The Juncal structural subprovince extends eastward into Argentina. It is typified by close, overturned folding, vertical bedding, and thrust faulting. In general, structural deformation increases in intensity from west to east, with imbricate overthrusting to the east in Argentina.

Present evidence indicates that major graben formation began during early Tertiary (pre-Miocene) time as a result of tensional stress developed by strain release of earlier compressional forces that folded the Andes. Post-Miocene uplift of the central Andean region renewed tensional stress and opened deep-seated, north-striking fractures and reinitiated volcanism. Most of the active volcanos of Chile may be aligned along such fractures.

First Page Preview

First page PDF preview
You do not currently have access to this article.