The role of magmatic processes as a significant mechanism for the generation of voluminous silicic crust and the development of Cordilleran plateaus remains a lingering question in part because of the inherent difficulty in quantifying plutonic volumes. Despite this difficulty, a growing body of independently measured plutonic-to-volcanic ratios suggests the volume of plutonic material in the crust related to Cordilleran magmatic systems is much larger than is previously expected. To better examine the role of crustal magmatic processes and its relationship to erupted material in Cordilleran systems, we present a continuous high-resolution crustal seismic velocity model for an ~800 km section of the active South American Cordillera (Puna Plateau). Although the plutonic-to-volcanic ratios we estimate vary along the length of the Puna Plateau, all ratios are larger than those previously reported (~30:1 compared to 5:1) implying that a significant volume of intermediate to silicic plutonic material is generated in the crust of the central South American Cordillera. Furthermore, as Cordilleran-type margins have been common since the onset of modern plate tectonics, our findings suggest that similar processes may have played a significant role in generating and/or modifying large volumes of continental crust, as observed in the continents today.
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