The Arequipa Massif, between the Andes and the Pacific, is an extensive pre-Devonian metamorphic complex. The sequence of deformations, metamorphisms and magmatism in this complex has been established. Mollendo, Atico and Marcona events are distinguished by structural and metamorphic methods and dated by Rb-Sr whole-rock isochrons, at about 1918, 440 and 392 Ma respectively. The Mollendo event led to partial melting, followed by granulite-facies metamorphism, in sediments buried to about 30 km. Further NW, sillimanite-bearing migmatites and staurolite-andalusite schists are thought to represent the same event. The tectonic trend is uncertain but the structures and metamorphism suggest a collision orogeny which probably pre-dated the Pacific Ocean.

The early Caledonian Atico and Marcona events are associated with coast-parallel batholiths, amphibolite- to greenschist-facies metamorphism and penetrative deformations. The Atico and Marcona events are separated by the deposition of the Marcona Formation, which is therefore thought to be Lower Palaeozoic (between about 440 and 392 Ma). The early Caledonian deformations are attributed to a subduction zone near the present Pacific margin. There is no penetrative Hercynian or Andean deformation in the Arequipa Massif.

Palaeomagnetic study of Jurassic andesites and dykes suggests that there has been no latitudinal motion of the Arequipa Massif relative to the Brazilian shield during the evolution of the Andes.

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