GeoScienceWorld
GeoRef Record 2000-018398

Tectonics of the Jurassic-Early Cretaceous magmatic arc of the North Chilean Coastal Cordillera (22 degrees -26 degrees S); a story of crustal deformation along a convergent plate boundary

Tectonics of the Jurassic-Early Cretaceous magmatic arc of the North Chilean Coastal Cordillera (22 degrees -26 degrees S); a story of crustal deformation along a convergent plate boundary

Latitude & Longitude S25°00′00″ – S22°00′00″ and W71°00′00″ – W69°00′00″

Abstract

The tectonic evolution of a continental magmatic arc that was active in the north Chilean Coastal Cordillera in Jurassic-Early Cretaceous times is described in order to show the relationship between arc deformation and plate convergence. During stage I (circa 195-155 Ma) a variety of structures formed at deep to shallow crustal levels, indicating sinistral arc-parallel strike-slip movements. From deep crustal levels a sequence of structures is described, starting with the formation of a broad belt of plutonic rocks which were sheared under granulite to amphibolite facies conditions (Bolfin Complex). The high-grade deformation was followed by the formation of two sets of conjugate greenschist facies shear zones showing strike-slip and thrust kinematics with a NW-SE directed maximum horizontal shortening, i.e., parallel to the probable Late Jurassic vector of plate convergence. A kinematic pattern compatible to this plate convergence is displayed by nonmetamorphic folds, thrusts, and high-angle normal faults which formed during the same time interval as the discrete shear zones. During stage II (160-150 Ma), strong arc-normal extension is revealed by brittle low-angle normal faults at shallow levels and some ductile normal faults and the intrusion of extended plutons at deeper levels. During stage III (155-147 Ma), two reversals in the stress regime took place indicated by two generations of dikes, an older one trending NE-SW and a younger one trending NW-SE. Sinistral strike-slip movements also prevailed during stage IV (until approximately 125 Ma) when the Atacama Fault Zone originated as a sinistral trench-linked strike-slip fault. The tectonic evolution of the magmatic arc is interpreted in terms of coupling and decoupling between the downgoing and overriding plates. The structures of stages I and IV suggest that stress transmission due to seismic coupling between the plates was probably responsible for these deformations. However, decoupling of the plates occurred possibly due to a decrease in convergence rate resulting in extension and the reversals of stages II and III. Copyright 1999 by the American Geophysical Union.