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Spatial and temporal patterns of exhumation across the Venezuelan Andes: Implications for Cenozoic Caribbean geodynamics

Abstract : The Venezuelan Andes formed by complex geodynamic interaction between the Caribbean Plate, the Panamá Arc, the South American Plate and the continental Maracaibo block. We study the spatial and temporal patterns of exhumation across the Venezuelan Andes using 47 new apatite fission track (AFT) ages as well as topographic analyses. This approach permits the identification of at least seven tectonic blocks (Escalante, Cerro Azul, Trujillo, Caparo, Sierra Nevada, Sierra La Culata and El Carmen blocks) with contrasting exhumation and cooling histories. The Sierra Nevada, Sierra La Culata and El Carmen blocks, located in the central part of the Venezuelan Andes and separated by the Boconó fault system, cooled rapidly but diachronously during the late Miocene-Pliocene. Major surface uplift and exhumation occurred in the Sierra Nevada block since before 8 Ma. A second phase of uplift and exhumation affected the El Carmen and Sierra La Culata blocks to the north of the Boconó fault during the late Miocene-Pliocene. The highest topography and steepest relief of the belt coincides with these blocks. The Caparo and Trujillo blocks, located at the northeastern and southwestern ends of the orogen, cooled more slowly from the Oligocene to the late Miocene. These blocks are characterized by significantly lower mean elevations and slightly lower mean slopes than the central blocks. Unraveling the cooling history of the individual blocks is important to better understand the control of preexisting faults and regional Caribbean geodynamics on the evolution of the Venezuelan Andes. Our data indicate a strong control of major preexisting fault zones on exhumation patterns and temporal correlation between phases of rapid exhumation in different blocks with major tectonic events (e.g., collision of the Panamá arc; rotation of the Maracaibo block).
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Submitted on : Tuesday, December 21, 2010 - 3:27:48 PM
Last modification on : Friday, September 25, 2020 - 3:13:56 AM

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Mauricio A. Bermúdez, Barry P. Kohn, Peter A. van der Beek, Matthias Bernet, Paul B. O'Sullivan, et al.. Spatial and temporal patterns of exhumation across the Venezuelan Andes: Implications for Cenozoic Caribbean geodynamics. Tectonics, American Geophysical Union (AGU), 2010, 29, pp.5009. ⟨10.1029/2009TC002635⟩. ⟨insu-00549245⟩

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