Imaging the Lithospheric Structure of the Central Andes from the Joint Inversion of Multiple Seismic Data Sets
AuthorWard, Kevin Michael
AdvisorBeck, Susan L.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractA lingering question in Cordilleran tectonics is how high plateaus form in the absence of continental collision. The type example of an active Cordilleran high plateau is found in the Central Andes of Peru, Bolivia, Argentina, and Chile. Along this section of the South American Cordillera, tectonics are primarily driven by subduction of the oceanic Nazca Plate beneath the continental South American Plate. Extending over 1,800 km along the active continental margin, the Central Andean Plateau (CAP) reaches a maximum width of around 400 km with several peaks in excess of 6 km. Numerous morphotectonic subdivisions of the CAP highlight the complex along-strike variability of the Plateau providing a natural laboratory for investigating the relative contribution of tectonic processes involved in building and maintaining Cordilleran high plateaus. The scale of this problem extends far beyond the scope of any one geoscientific discipline requiring a multidisciplinary approach. Our contribution to this scientific problem and the focus of the work presented in this dissertation is to better understand the current lithospheric and uppermost mantle structure along the CAP. This is achieved by integrating recent advances in seismic imaging techniques with a growing availability of high-quality seismic data into three distinct studies across the South American continent. In the first study, we present a shear-wave velocity model for the crust below the Altiplano-Puna Volcanic Complex (APVC). The target of this study is to constrain the crustal volume of a large magma reservoir inferred to exist below the APVC. When combined with geological and petrological constraints, the large-volume magma reservoir imaged in this study suggests a significant magmatic contribution to the growth of the Plateau in excess of one kilometer over the last ten million years. In addition to the tectonic contributions of this work, we introduce a new method of jointly inverting surface-wave dispersion data and receiver functions to generate a three-dimensional velocity model. In the second study, we combine Rayleigh-wave dispersion data from ambient noise and earthquake-generated surface waves to invert for a shear-wave velocity model of the lithosphere and uppermost mantle below the Bolivian Orocline. The target of this study is to identify any possible mantle contributions to the uplift history along the northern CAP. The highlight of this study is a high-velocity feature that extends from the base of the crust to ~120 km depth below the Altiplano basin. We interpret this feature using a simple isostatic model and suggest it is responsible for the relatively low topography of the Altiplano basin. In the third and final study, we extend the seismic model of the APVC crust to cover the entire Puna Plateau (southern CAP). The target of this study is to assess the uniqueness of the APMB and to look for additional magma reservoirs in the crust. A highlight of this work is the nearly one-to-one spatial correlation between the long-wavelength topography, ignimbrite deposits, long-wavelength Bouguer gravity anomalies, and four additional mid-crustal low-velocity zones imaged in the southern Puna Plateau. When placed in the context of existing geological and petrological constraints, we suggest the contribution of magmatic addition as an uplift mechanism in Cordilleran systems is much larger than is currently accepted.
Degree ProgramGraduate College