Cenozoic back-arc magmatism of the southern extra-Andean Patagonia (44° 30' - 52° S): A review of geochemical data and geodynamic interpretations

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Massimo D'Orazio
Fabrizio Innocenti
Piero Manettip
Miguel J. Haller


Huge amounts of basaltic s.l. lavas were persistently erupted along the eastern side of the Andean Cordillera, throughout Cenozoic time, forming extensive plateaus, hundreds of monogenetic scoria cones and other volcanic structures in a continental back-arc setting. The igneous products exposed in the southern sector of the extra-Andean Patagonia (44° 30' - 52° S) are dominantly mafic with minor slightly evolved compositions and rare highly differentiated products. The many published chemical analyses of these rocks, indicate that the mafic lavas range from strongly silica - undersaturated basanites to oversaturated basaltic andesites, and that most of the lavas have a typical within-plate geochemical signature. However, a number of lavas, generally erupted in the western-central sectors of Patagonia, are characterized by different distributions of the incompatible elements with high LILE/HFSE and LREE/HFSE ratios. The REE distribution modelling suggests a low degree of melting of a deep (> 70 km) garnet-bearing source for the alkaline magmas, and a higher degree of melting of the same source, or an even higher degree of melting of an enriched source, for the subalkaline magmas. The available Sr-Nd-Pb isotope compositions clearly attest to a major geographic variation: the southernmost lavas have lower 87Sr/86Sr and higher 143Nd/144Nd and 206Pb/204Pb ratios with respect to those erupted to the north. On the whole, the Sr-Nd-Pb isotope compositions of the southern Patagonia lavas fall within the typical range of within-plate continental magmas; in addition the Pb isotope ratios fall in the range of the Southern Hemisphere Dupal Pb isotope anomaly. The geochemical variations of the southern Patagonia lavas are discussed in terms of different geochemical components: depleted and enriched sub-slab asthenosphere, enriched continental lithospheric mantle, continental crust and subducted materials. The geodynamic significance is interpreted with in the framework of the space-time evolution of the magmatism and in the wider frame of the Cenozoic history of the Pacific margin of southern South America. The slab window openings associated with the collision between oceanic spreading ridges and the Chile Trench are the preferred geodynamic interpretation of the southern Patagonia magmatism. However, the occurrence of many volcanic formations whose age and location are not entirely compatible with the slab window model suggests that other geodynamic processes inducing mantle melting could have been active during Cenozoic time in the extra Andean Patagonia.

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D’Orazio, M., Innocenti, F., Manettip, P., & Haller, M. J. (2004). Cenozoic back-arc magmatism of the southern extra-Andean Patagonia (44° 30’ - 52° S): A review of geochemical data and geodynamic interpretations. Revista De La Asociación Geológica Argentina, 59(4), 525-538. Retrieved from https://revista.geologica.org.ar/raga/article/view/1430