The Central Andean Forearc (26°S) structure has been debated for decades. Extension, contraction, and strike-slip deformation are commonly proposed mechanisms to explain the main tectonic elements exposed in the Domeyko Cordillera, Salar de Pedernales Basin, and others partially exposed in the Coastal Cordillera and Central Depression. Although pre-Andean tectonic inheritance seems to have influenced the style and mechanisms of mountain uplift in this region, its current architecture and the way it controlled the shortening distribution during orogen evolution are highly speculative, mainly because some of the tectonic provinces in this segment consist of covered areas (e.g., the Central Depression). To address this question, we present the first balanced cross-section and pre-shortening restoration of the Andean forearc at 26°S. We integrated new field data from the Coastal and Domeyko cordilleras with well data and re-interpreted 2D seismic profiles from the Salar de Pedernales Basin to construct a regional-scale cross-section of 210 km length from the Coastal Cordillera to the current Volcanic Arc, thus showing a two-dimensional (2D tectonic model to help understand the tectonic evolution of the western Central Andes. The results indicate a pre-shortening architecture dominated by Late Permian–Jurassic half-graben structures related to continental rifting. West- and east-dipping basement-rooted normal faults controlled rift-related basins, along which kilometric-scale marine and continental syn-rift sequences accumulated. During early Andean orogenesis, the normal faults were partially inverted, and large anticlines developed at the hanging wall faults, which Upper Cretaceous progressively covered to Paleocene synorogenic units. This suggests that the initial topographic relief in the region resulted from a basin inversion. During the more advanced stages of orogenesis (mid-Cenozoic), new reverse and thrust faults (or shortcut faults) were created, which connected upward with incompetent stratigraphic units and facilitated the propagation of localized fold-and-thrust belts in the eastern Domeyko Cordillera and Salar de Pedernales basins. A minimum of 16.3 km of W-E shortening was reported; however, nearly 11 km was accommodated by the newly created thrusts, indicating that these were most relevant to mountain building.
Áreas temáticas de ASJC Scopus
- Procesos de la superficie terrestre