Tectonic Evolution of the Central Andean Plateau and Implications for the Growth of Plateaus

Carmala N. Garzione, Nadine McQuarrie, Nicholas D. Perez, Todd A. Ehlers, Susan L. Beck, Nandini Kar, Nathan Eichelberger, Alan D. Chapman, Kevin M. Ward, Mihai N. Ducea, Richard O. Lease, Christopher J. Poulsen, Lara S. Wagner, Joel E. Saylor, George Zandt, Brian K. Horton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

136 Scopus citations


Current end-member models for the geodynamic evolution of orogenic plateaus predict (a) slow and steady rise during crustal shortening and ablative subduction (i.e., continuous removal) of the lower lithosphere or (b) rapid surface uplift following shortening, which is associated with punctuated removal of dense lower lithosphere and or lower crustal flow. This review integrates results from recent studies of the modern lithospheric structure, geologic evolution, and surface uplift history of the Central Andean Plateau to evaluate the geodynamic processes involved in forming it. Comparison of the timing, magnitude, and distribution of shortening and surface uplift, in combination with other geologic evidence, highlights the pulsed nature of plateau growth. We discuss specific regions and time periods that show evidence for end-member geodynamic processes, including middle-late Miocene surface uplift of the southern Eastern Cordillera and Altiplano associated with shortening and ablative subduction, latest Oligocene-early Miocene and late Miocene-early Pliocene punctuated removal of dense lower lithosphere in the Eastern Cordillera and Altiplano, and late Miocene-early Pliocene crustal flow in the central and northern Altiplano.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)529-559
Number of pages31
JournalAnnual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences
StatePublished - Aug 30 2017


  • Basin evolution
  • Crustal flow
  • Deformation
  • Incision
  • Lower lithosphere removal
  • Magmatism
  • Surface uplift

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science


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