A review about the mechanisms associated with active deformation, regional uplift and subsidence in southern South America

  • Folguera A
  • Gianni G
  • Sagripanti L
 et al. 
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A broad range of processes acted simultaneously during the Quaternary producing relief in the Andes and adjacent foreland, from the Chilean coast, where the Pacific Ocean floor is being subducted beneath South American, to the Brazilian and the Argentinean Atlantic platform area. This picture shows to be complex and responds to a variety of processes. The Geoid exemplifies this spectrum of uplift mechanisms, since it reflects an important change at 35°S along the Andes and the foreland that could be indicating the presence of dynamic forces modeling the topography with varying intensity through the subduction margin. On the other hand, mountains uplifted in the Atlantic margin, along a vast sector of the Brazilian Atlantic coast and inland regions seem to be created at the area where the passive margin has been hyper-extended and consequently mechanically debilitated and the forearc region shifts eastwardly at a similar rate than the westward advancing continent. Therefore the forearc at the Arica latitudes can be considered as relatively stationary and dynamically sustained by a perpendicular-to-the-margin asthenospheric flow that inhibits trench roll back, determining a highly active orogenic setting at the eastern Andes in the Subandean region. To the south, the Pampean flat subduction zone creates particular conditions for deformation and rapid propagation of the orogenic front producing a high-amplitude orogen. In the southern Central and Patagonian Andes, mountain (orogenic) building processes are attenuated, becoming dominant other mechanisms of exhumation such as the i) impact of mantle plumes originated in the 660 km mantle transition, ii) the ice-masse retreat from the Andes after the Pleistocene producing an isostatic rebound, iii) the dynamic topography associated with the opening of an asthenospheric window during the subduction of the Chile ridge and slab tearing processes, iv) the subduction of oceanic swells linked to transform zones and v) the accretion of oceanic materials beneath the forearc region. Additionally and after last geodetic studies, vi) exhumation due to co- and post-seismic lithospheric stretching associated with large earthquakes along the subduction zone, also shows to be a factor associated with regional uplift that needs to be further considered as an additional mechanism from the Chilean coast to the western retroarc area. Finally, this revision constitutes a general picture about the different mechanisms of uplift and active deformation along the Southern Andes, in which orogenic processes become dominant north of 35°S, while south of these latitudes dynamic forces seem to predominate all over the Patagonian platform.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Andes
  • Deformation
  • Neotectonics
  • Pacific and Atlantic coasts
  • Quaternary
  • Uplift

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  • Andrés Folguera

  • Guido Gianni

  • Lucía Sagripanti

  • Emilio Rojas Vera

  • Iván Novara

  • Bruno Colavitto

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