Continental underthrusting and obduction during the Cretaceous closure of the Rocas Verdes rift basin, Cordillera Darwin, Patagonian Andes

Keith Klepeis, Paul Betka, Geoffrey Clarke, Mark Fanning, Francisco Hervé, Lisandro Rojas, Constantino Mpodozis, Stuart Thomson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

97 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The Patagonian Andes record a period of Cretaceous-Neogene orogenesis that began with the compressional inversion of a Late Jurassic rift called the Rocas Verdes basin. Detrital zircon ages from sediment that filled the southern part of the basin provide a maximum depositional age of ∼148 Ma, suggesting that the basin opened approximately simultaneously along its length during the Late Jurassic. Structural data and U-Pb isotopic ages on zircon from granite plutons near the Beagle Channel (55°S) show that basin inversion involved two stages of shortening separated by tens of millions of years. An initial stage created a small (∼60 km wide) thrust wedge that placed the basaltic floor of the Rocas Verdes basin on top of adjacent continental crust prior to ∼86 Ma. Structures and metamorphic mineral assemblages preserved in an exhumed middle to lower crustal shear zone in Cordillera Darwin suggest that this obduction was accompanied by south directed subduction of the basaltic crust and underthrusting of continental crust to depths of ∼35 km beneath a coeval volcanic arc. A subsequent stage of out-of-sequence thrusting, culminating in the Paleogene, shortened basement and Upper Jurassic igneous rock in the internal part of the belt by at least ∼50 km, forming a bivergent thrust wedge. This latter period coincided with the exhumation of rocks in Cordillera Darwin and expansion of the fold-thrust belt into theMagallanes foreland basin. This orogen provides an important example of how orogenesis initiated and led to continental underthrusting and obduction of basaltic crust during closure of a quasi-oceanic rift basin.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberTC3014
JournalTectonics
Volume29
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology

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