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Tectonic rotations during the Chile Ridge collision and obduction of the Taitao ophiolite (southern Chile)



Abstract  The < 6 Ma young Taitao ophiolite, exposed at the westernmost promontory of the Taitao Peninsula, is located approximately 40 km southeast of the Chile triple junction and consists of a complete sequence of oceanic lithosphere. Systematic sampling for paleomagnetic study was performed to understand the complex obduction processes of the ophiolite onto the forearc of the South American Plate. Two representative demagnetization paths of remanent magnetization vectors were observed. One is characterized by stable univectorial demagnetization paths and was observed in volcaniclastic rocks and dyke complexes. Orientations of their remanent magnetization vectors indicate various degrees of counterclockwise rotations. The other is characterized by multivectorial demagnetization paths and was observed in the plutonic units (gabbros and ultramafic rocks). From these, two distinct stable remanent magnetization vectors were isolated; one has high coercivity and the other has low coercivity along the demagnetization paths with little influence of viscous magnetizations. This suggests that the complex deformation history involved at least two rotational events. The clockwise rotation, inferred from high coercivity remanent magnetization vectors, was attributed to a ridge collision event and the counterclockwise rotation, inferred from the low coercivity remanent magnetization vectors, was attributed to an accommodation phase into the South American forearc during obduction and final emplacement of the ophiolite. Folds developed during this period. Paleomagnetic restorations of the internal structures of the plutonic units and dyke complexes suggest that they probably originated in a mid-oceanic ridge environment near a transform fault. The counterclockwise rotation of the plutonic and dyke complex units during the obduction generated tectonic gaps between these and the basement. The volcaniclastic rocks must have been deposited at nearly their present location, filling the tectonic gaps, as less effect of tectonic rotation was identified on these rocks.