Helmholtz Centre Potsdam
GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences
Abstract (EDOC: 3713)
A 400-km-long seismic reflection profile (Andean Continental Research Project 1996 (ANCORP'96)) and integrated geophysical experiments (wide-angle seismology, passive seismology, gravity, and magnetotelluric depth sounding) across the central Andes (21°S) observed subduction of the Nazca plate under the South American continent. An east dipping reflector (Nazca Reflector) is linked to the down going oceanic crust and shows increasing downdip intensity before gradual breakdown below 80 km. We interpret parts of the Nazca Reflector as a fluid trap located at the front of recent hydration and shearing of the mantle, the fluids being supplied by dehydration of the oceanic plate. Patches of bright (Quebrada Blanca Bright Spot) to more diffuse reflectivity underlie the plateau domain at 15–30 km depth. This reflectivity is associated with a low-velocity zone, P to S wave conversions, the upper limits of high conductivity and high Vp/Vs ratios, and to the occurrence of Neogene volcanic rocks at surface. We interpret this feature as evidence of widespread partial melting of the plateau crust causing decoupling of the upper and lower crust during Neogene shortening and plateau growth. The imaging properties of the continental Moho beneath the Andes indicate a broad transitional character of the crust-mantle boundary owing to active processes like hydration of mantle rocks (in the cooler parts of the plate margin system), magmatic underplating and intraplating under and into the lowermost crust, mechanical instability at Moho, etc. Hence all first-order features appear to be related to fluid-assisted processes in a subduction setting
(2003): Seismic imaging of a convergent continental margin and plateau in the central Andes (Andean Continental Research Project 1996 (ANCORP'96)). Journal of Geophysical Research, 108, B7, 2328.