Linking sedimentation in the northern Andes to basement configuration, Mesozoic extension, and Cenozoic shortening: Evidence from detrital zircon U-Pb ages, Eastern Cordillera, Colombia

Brian K. Horton, Joel E. Saylor, Junsheng Nie, Andrés Mora, Mauricio Parra, Andrés Reyes-Harker, Daniel F. Stockli

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Laser ablation-inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS) analyses of 29 samples from the Eastern Cordillera of Colombia reveal the origin of northern Andean basement and patterns of sedimentation during Paleozoic subsidence, Jurassic-Early Cretaceous extension, Late Cretaceous postrift subsidence, and Cenozoic shortening and foreland-basin evolution. U-Pb geochronological results indicate that presumed Precambrian basement is mainly a product of early Paleozoic mag-matism (520-420 Ma) potentially linked to subduction and possible collision. Inherited zircons provide evidence for Mesoproterozoic tectonomagmatic events at 1200-1000 Ma during Grenville-age orogenesis. Detrital zircon U-Pb ages for Paleozoic strata show derivation from Andean basement, syn depositional magmatic sources (420-380 Ma), and distal sources of chiefly Mesoproterozoic basement (1650-900 Ma) in the Amazonian craton (Guyana shield) to the east or in possible continental terranes along the western margin of South America. Sedimentation during Jurassic-Early Cretaceous rifting is expressed in detrital zircon age spectra as Andean basement sources, recycled Paleozoic contributions, and igneous sources of Carboniferous-Permian (310-250 Ma) and Late Triassic-Early Jurassic (220-180 Ma) origin. Detrital zircon provenance during continued Cretaceous extension and postrift thermal subsidence recorded the elimination of Andean basement sources and increased influence of craton-derived drainage systems providing mainly Paleoproterozoic and Mesoproterozoic (2050-950 Ma) grains. By Eocene time, zircons from the Guyana shield (1850-1350 Ma) dominated the detrital signal in the easternmost Eastern Cordillera. In contrast, coeval Eocene deposits in the axial Eastern Cordillera contain Late Cretaceous-Paleocene (90-55 Ma), Jurassic (190-150 Ma), and limited Permian-Triassic (280-220 Ma) zircons recording initial uplift and exhumation of principally Mesozoic magmatic-arc rocks to the west in the Central Cordillera. Oligocene-Miocene sandstones of the proximal Llanos foreland basin document uplift-induced exhumation of the Eastern Cordillera fold-thrust belt and recycling of the Paleogene cover succession rich in both arc-derived detritus (dominantly 180-40 Ma) and shield-derived sediments (mostly 1850-950 Ma). Late Miocene-Pliocene erosion into the underlying Cretaceous section is evidenced by elimination of Mesozoic-Cenozoic zircons and increased proportions of 1650-900 Ma zircons emblematic of Cretaceous strata.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1423-1442
Number of pages20
JournalBulletin of the Geological Society of America
Issue number9-10
StatePublished - Sep 1 2010


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geology

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