Abstract

The Boconó Fault system is a major active tectonic feature accommodating an important part of the dextral relative motion between the Caribbean Plate and northern South-America. The main trace follows an axial valley running SW-NE within the Mérida Andes (northwestern Venezuela), and crosscuts a series of moraines related to late Pleistocene glaciers developments and retreats, at an altitude between 2600 and 5000 m. Several lakes were generated after the last retreat (between the Late Glacial Maximum –LGM– and the Younger Dryas re-advance), dammed by lateral and frontal moraines. Among them, the Los Zerpa moraine system yielded rich outcrops ranging from an upstream very coarse torrential to deltaic fill, to a downstream clayey-silty horizontal laminated lacustrine accumulation; a fore-set-type heterogeneous “prograding” body links the two sets. The whole system, as well as the surrounding moraines, underwent successive major earthquakes during the Late Glacial/lower Holocene period as evidenced by co-seismic scarps in the moraines, migrations of the outlet, and associated sagponds. Besides active faulting affecting both the moraines and the sedimentary fill, the latter –main purpose of our detail study– exhibits various evidence of strong disturbances which we relate to seismic shaking, such as: i) successive unconformities with co-seismic slips along fractures in the coarse proximal sediments; ii) successive dip changes, discontinuities, and slumps in the foreset-like set; iii) slumps with basal liquefaction, syn-sedimentary fractures, and instantaneous re-sedimentation in the fine-grained laminated accumulation. Lateral (temporal) correlations are established between the successive disturbances detected in the three situations; in turn, these sedimentary events are correlated with seismic activity of the Boconó Fault main trace. Thus, the whole paleo-lake may be considered as a natural seismograph which worked during several thousands years, after the end of the LGM and during early Holocene.

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