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Plio-Quaternary thin-skinned tectonics along the crustal front flexure of the southern Central Andes: A record of the regional stress regime or of local tectonic-driven gravitational processes?

AuthorsMessager, G.; Nivière, B.; Lacan, Pierre; Hervouët, Y.; Xavier, J.-P.
KeywordsThick- and thin-skinned tectonics
Gravity gliding
Southern Central Andes
Issue DateApr-2014
CitationInternational Journal of Earth Sciences 103(3): 929-951 (2014)
AbstractWe present here a record of Plio-Pleistocene deformations above the flexural front of the southern Central Andes of Argentina. We combine a seismic profile with structural and geomorphological observations to show that thin-skinned extension located on top of the crustal front flexure is coeval with thin-skinned shortening at the toe of the topographic bulge. The seismic line shows that a flat zone with no internal deformation separates the stretched and shortened domains. Such features are usually interpreted as the result of strike-slip faulting along basement faults, or tangential longitudinal strain folding in the soft sedimentary cover above crustal bending. We propose an alternative linking extension at the apex of the crustal anticline, to basal contraction by the downslope translation of a rigid thin nappe of sediments (30 × 30 km2 in area) above evaporites at a depth of 700-900 m. The size of such a process is unusually large onshore (630-810 km3) but mimics the gravity gliding observed in deltas and passive margins. Since this process disconnects zones with a shallow stress field from deeper crustal levels, it could allow extension above a compressive deformation front and should not be interpreted merely as a record of the crustal stress regime. Large-scale gravity gliding of the cover down the slope of a structural high could also explain some of the extension observed in mountain hinterlands.
Publisher version (URL)http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00531-013-0983-4
Appears in Collections:(Geo3Bcn) Artículos
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