Tectonic control of the drainage in the Andes of northern Argentina

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Ricardo Mon


Transverse rivers draining the eastern flank of the Andes of north Argentina show abrupt diversions to axial courses immediately west of the trace of big thrusts, or the borders of plates uplifted by faults located along the opposite side of them. The diverted rivers gather other transverse rivers before merging in the opposite direction and breaking through the mountain front. River diversion is interpreted as a response to progressive uplift and lateral growth of fault belts or anticlines propagating along blind thrusts. Most of the rivers of the region were diverted; few maintained their courses across growing structures. Drainage reorganization by the growth of structurally controlled topography influenced the location and concentrated the river outlets at the mountain front. This 600 km-long segment of the Andes has only three outlets represented by the trunk rivers Bermejo, Juramento and Salí-Dulce. The drainage pattern evolved since the Puna uplift (12-15 Ma), after the final marine regression. River deviations may have started after uplift of the Cordillera Oriental (10 Ma) and promulgated with the uplift of new mountains to the east, progressively from west to east. The easternmost belts of the Subandean system and northern Sierras Pampeanas were uplifted after 3 Ma, generating younger obstacles for the rivers. High uplift rates of the tectonic obstacles could explain the tendency to deviation of the rivers of this region.

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Mon, R. (2005). Tectonic control of the drainage in the Andes of northern Argentina. Revista De La Asociación Geológica Argentina, 60(3), 461-466. Retrieved from https://revista.geologica.org.ar/raga/article/view/1098

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