The nature of the Palaeozoic oceanic basin at the southwestern margin of Gondwana and implications for the origin of the Chilenia terrane (Pichilemu region, central Chile)

Thaís Hyppolito, Caetano Juliani, Antonio García-Casco, Vinícius Tieppo Meira, Andres Bustamante, Francisco Hervé

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


The Coastal Accretionary Complex of central Chile constitutes the product of early Carboniferous to Late Triassic subduction at the rear of Chilenia, a continental terrane likely derived from Laurentia and accreted to southwestern margin of Gondwana during the Mid to Late Devonian. The complex contains basaltic metavolcanic sequences of the subducted oceanic lithosphere accreted to the active margin. In this paper, we address the tectonic setting of these rocks by means of a geochemical study in the coastal area of Pichilemu region, central Chile. The accreted fragments of oceanic crust occupy different structural levels, exhibit variable metamorphic grade, and have geochemical fingerprints that reveal a compositional heterogeneity of the subducted oceanic crust. The amphibolites have N to E-MORB compositions. Greenschist units include N-MORB and E-MORB transitional to OIB, and blueschists and greenschists interleaved within a single metavolcanosedimentary sequence have OIB signatures. Neodymium isotopic systematics indicate depleted and enriched mantle sources, whereas strontium isotopic systematics indicate seawater/rock interaction. The variety of rocks suggests formation in an oceanic setting characterized by shallow and deep mantle sources, such as plume-influenced ridge. Based on the geological, petrological, geochemical, and isotopic characteristics, we propose that the metavolcanic protoliths of the Pichilemu region formed relatively close to the western margin of the Chilenia terrane during the initial stage (late Cambrian-Early Devonian) of seafloor development and drifting of this continental block. Geochemical similarities with oceanic units accreted to the active margin south of the Pichilemu region indicate a regional pattern of the oceanic crust subducted under the Palaeozoic Chilean margin between, at least, 34°S and 39°S latitude, strongly supporting the activity of a mantle plume. This, in turn, can be correlated with the location of the Pacific plume generation zone in early Palaeozoic era, corroborating a Laurentian origin for the Chilenia terrane.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1097-1121
Number of pages25
JournalInternational Geology Review
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jul 2014


  • Chilenia
  • central Chile
  • geochemistry
  • ocean island basalts
  • plume-influenced ridge
  • southwestern Gondwana margin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geology


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