Evolution of crustal thickening in the central Andes, Bolivia

Nathan Eichelberger, Nadine McQuarrie, Jamie Ryan, Bobak Karimi, Susan Beck, George Zandt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations

Abstract

Paleoelevation histories from the central Andes in Bolivia have suggested that the geodynamic evolution of the region has been punctuated by periods of large-scale lithospheric removal that drive rapid increases in elevation at the surface. Here, we evaluate viable times and locations of material loss using a map-view reconstruction of the Bolivian orocline displacement field to forward-model predicted crustal thicknesses. Two volumetric models are presented that test assumed pre-deformation crustal thicknesses of 35 km and 40 km. Both models predict that modern crustal thicknesses were achieved first in the northern Eastern Cordillera (EC) by 30-20 Ma but remained below modern in the southern EC until ≤10 Ma. The Altiplano is predicted to have achieved modern crustal thickness after 10 Ma but only with a pre-deformation thickness of 50 km, including 10 km of sediment. At the final stage, the models predict 8-25% regional excess crustal volume compared to modern thickness, largely concentrated in the northern EC. The excess predicted volume from 20 to 0 Ma can be accounted for by: 1) crustal flow to the WC and/or Peru, 2) localized removal of the lower crust, or 3) a combination of the two. Only models with initial crustal thicknesses >35 km predict excess volumes sufficient to account for potential crustal thickness deficits in Peru and allow for lower crustal loss. However, both initial thickness models predict that modern crustal thicknesses were achieved over the same time periods that paleoelevation histories indicate the development of modern elevations. Localized removal of lower crust is only necessary in the northern EC where crustal thickness exceeds modern by 20 Ma, prior to paleoelevation estimates of modern elevations by 15 Ma. In the Altiplano, crustal thicknesses match modern values at 10 Ma and can only exceed modern values by 5 Ma, post-dating when modern elevations were thought to have been established. Collectively, these models predict that the timing of crustal thickening is consistent with paleoelevation data without requiring large-scale removal of lower crust and mantle lithosphere.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)191-203
Number of pages13
JournalEarth and Planetary Science Letters
Volume426
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 5 2015

Keywords

  • Altiplano
  • Andean plateau
  • Crustal flow
  • Crustal thickness
  • Orocline
  • Shortening

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science

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