The Late Paleozoic Evolution of the Gondwanaland Continental Margin in Northern Chile

  1. Garry D. Mckenzie
  1. C. M. Bell

Published Online: 21 MAR 2013

DOI: 10.1029/GM040p0261

Gondwana Six: Structure, Tectonics, and Geophysics

Gondwana Six: Structure, Tectonics, and Geophysics

How to Cite

Bell, C. M. (1987) The Late Paleozoic Evolution of the Gondwanaland Continental Margin in Northern Chile, in Gondwana Six: Structure, Tectonics, and Geophysics (ed G. D. Mckenzie), American Geophysical Union, Washington, D. C.. doi: 10.1029/GM040p0261

Author Information

  1. School of Geography and Geology, College Of St. Paul And St. Mary, Cheltenham, United Kingdom

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 21 MAR 2013
  2. Published Print: 1 JAN 1987

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780875900643

Online ISBN: 9781118664483



  • Gondwana Geology)—Congresses;
  • Geology,Structural—Congresses


Tectonic activity on the Gondwanaland continental margin in northern Chile and northwestern Argentina has been continuous from the early Paleozoic to the present. Paleozoic accretion resulted from the buildup of accretionary and magmatic arc complexes, and possibly from the addition of exotic terranes. Paleozoic strata between 25°S and 29°S in northern Chile comprise two north-south elongated strips separated by a 100-km-wide graben infilled with younger rocks. The western strip consists of deep-sea turbidites and basic lavas of the Devonian or Early Carboniferous Las Tórtolas Formation. Subduction of these rocks during Carboniferous times produced the Chañaral mélange in the area south of 26°30′S. The mélange probably resulted from intrastratal movements of partly consolidated strata within an accretionary wedge. Further tectonic deformation of both the turbidites and the mélange was produced by northeast directed subduction. The subduction complex is bounded to the east by the Atacama strike-slip fault system. To the east of the graben are relatively undeformed Early Carboniferous lacustrine sedimentary rocks of the Chinches Formation. These were deposited in a deep, elongated basin, possibly of pull-apart type resulting from strike-slip movement parallel to the coastline. Late Carboniferous to Early Permian magmatic activity superimposed on both these sedimentary successions suggests seaward migration of the subduction zone. The development of the Mesozoic and Cenozoic Andean complex, which overlies the Paleozoic rocks with a marked unconformity, was not accompanied by the accretion of a further subduction complex.