Episodic construction of the early Andean Cordillera unravelled by zircon petrochronology
The subduction of oceanic plates beneath continental lithosphere is responsible for continental growth and recycling of oceanic crust, promoting the formation of Cordilleran arcs. However, the processes that control the evolution of these Cordilleran orogenic belts, particularly during their early stages of formation, have not been fully investigated. Here we use a multi-proxy geochemical approach, based on zircon petrochronology and whole-rock analyses, to assess the early evolution of the Andes, one of the most remarkable continental arcs in the world. Our results show that magmatism in the early Andean Cordillera occurred over a period of similar to 120 million years with six distinct plutonic episodes between 215 and 94 Ma. Each episode is the result of a complex interplay between mantle, crust, slab and sediment contributions that can be traced using zircon chemistry. Overall, the magmatism evolved in response to changes in the tectonic configuration, from transtensional/extensional conditions (215-145 Ma) to a transtensional regime (138-94 Ma). We conclude that an external (tectonic) forcing model with mantle-derived inputs is responsible for the episodic plutonism in this extensional continental arc. This study highlights the use of zircon petrochronology in assessing the multimillion-year crustal scale evolution of Cordilleran arcs.
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|Episodic construction of the early Andean Cordillera unravelled by zircon petrochronology
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