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The AAPG/Datapages Combined Publications Database

AAPG Bulletin


Volume: 77 (1993)

Issue: 11. (November)

First Page: 1904

Last Page: 1921

Title: Geometry and Evolution of the Frontal Part of the Magallanes Foreland Thrust and Fold Belt (Vicuna Area), Tierra del Fuego, Southern Chile

Author(s): J. Alvarez-Marron (2), K. R. McClay (3), S. Harambour (4), L. Rojas (4), J. Skarmeta (4)


The Magallanes foreland thrust and fold belt is a thin-skinned foreland thrust and fold belt of Paleocene to Oligocene age that deforms Upper Jurassic through Tertiary volcanic, volcaniclastic, and siliciclastic strata of the Magallanes basin, southern Andean Cordillera, Chile. This paper is a detailed description and analysis of the geology and structural evolution of the thrust front (Vicuna area of southern Tierra del Fuego). Reflection seismic and well data, together with 1:50,000 scale geological mapping, have been used in the analysis.

In the southern part of the Vicuna area, two different thrust systems have been found: an upper imbricate fan that deforms Upper Jurassic and Cretaceous strata, and a younger, lower duplex composed of Cretaceous and probably Upper Jurassic rocks. The imbricate fan is characterized by fault-propagation folding in which listric thrust faults merge downward into a sole thrust that probably is located within the Upper Jurassic stratigraphy. This fan system generates an intercutaneous wedge with a well-developed triangle zone at its leading edge. The sole thrust of the upper imbricates forms the roof thrust of the underlying duplex.

In the northern part of the Vicuna area, the syntectonic sedimentary wedge of the foredeep consists of Late Cretaceous through Tertiary siliciclastics that have been deformed and uplifted by passive back thrusting at the triangle zone. The structural style in the foreland region shows three main subhorizontal detachment levels located within the sedimentary wedge as a result of the progressive transfer of slip from the thrust belt to the foreland. Minor blind thrusts produce stacked "pop up" and triangle structures that result in complex geometries in the cores of anticlines.

A forward-breaking sequence of thrusting is interpreted. During deformation, the active foredeep wedge migrated at least 10 km northward. Balanced geological cross sections indicate approximately 60% (-30 km) shortening for this part of the Magallanes thrust belt.

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