Comparative seismic and petrographic crustal study between the Western and Eastern Sierras Pampeanas region (31°S)

Patricia Alvarado, Brígida Castro De Machuca, Susan Beck

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

19 Scopus citations

Abstract

The ancient Sierras Pampeanas in the central west part of Argentina are a seismically active region in the back-arc of the Andes. Their crystalline basement cored uplifts extend up to 800 km east of the oceanic trench over the flat subduction segment of the Nazca plate. Approximately 40 felt crustal earthquakes, are reported per year for this region. Historic and modern seismicity indicates that the Western Sierras Pampeanas (WSP) have more crustal earthquakes of greater-size than the Eastern Sierras Pampeanas (ESP). Remarkable changes in composition and structure also characterize the WSP and ESP basements. We have quantitatively compared both regions using seismological constrains. A recent regional study of moderate earthquakes shows reverse and thrust focal mechanisms occurring at depths down to 25 km in the WSP. In contrast, the ESP have reverse and strike-slip focal mechanisms of shallower depths (<10 km). A seismic velocity structure of Vp 6.4 km/s, Vp/Vs∼1.80, and thickness 50 km, best represents the WSP crust. The ESP crust is characterized by Vp 6.0 km/s, Vp/Vs < 1.70, and thickness 30 km. These seismological determinations correlate with the interpretation of a different origin for the western and eastern terranes. The WSP show seismic properties indicative of a more mafic-ultramafic thick crust consistent with an oceanic island-arc and back-arc formation. The ESP show crustal seismic properties consistent with a higher silica content and with a formation by the collision of a continental terrane.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)787-796
Number of pages10
JournalRevista de la Asociacion Geologica Argentina
Volume60
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2005

Keywords

  • Continental crust
  • Seismotectonics
  • Sierras pampeanas

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geology

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