Fault kinematics of the Magallanes-Fagnano fault system, southern Chile an example of diffuse strain and sinistral transtension along a continental transform margin

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Abstract

A system of left-lateral faults that separates the South American and Scotia plates, known as the Magallanes-Fagnano fault system, defines the modern tectonic setting of the southernmost Andes and is superimposed on the Late Cretaceous - Paleogene Patagonian fold-thrust belt. Fault kinematic data and crosscutting relationships from populations of thrust, strike-slip and normal faults from Peninsula Brunswick adjacent to the Magallanes-Fagnano fault system, presented herein, show kinematic and temporal relationships between thrust faults and sets of younger strike-slip and normal faults. Thrust fault kinematics are homogeneous in the study area and record subhorizontal northeast-directed shortening. Strike-slip faults record east-northeast-directed horizontal shortening, west-northwest-directed horizontal extension and form Riedel and P-shear geometries compatible with left-lateral slip on the main splay of the Magallanes-Fagnano fault system. Normal faults record north-south trending extension that is compatible with the strike-slip faults. The study area occurs in a releasing step-over between overlapping segments of the Magallanes-Fagnano fault system, which localized on antecedent sutures between basement terranes with differing geological origin. Results are consistent with regional tectonic models that suggest sinistral shearing and transtension in the southernmost Andes was contemporaneous with the onset of seafloor spreading in the Western Scotia Sea during the Early Miocene.

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Betka, P., Klepeis, K., & Mosher, S. (2016). Fault kinematics of the Magallanes-Fagnano fault system, southern Chile an example of diffuse strain and sinistral transtension along a continental transform margin. Journal of Structural Geology, 85, 130–153. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jsg.2016.02.001

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