The construction and destruction of mountain belts exert a first-order control in ecosystems by creating bridges and barriers for populations, modifying river-drainage networks and local and regional climate patterns. Several questions including How climate and tectonics control topographic growth and decay and what is the thermal and geological record of growth and decay? remain unclear and are subject of extensive research. Here we use geological data from the Antioquia Altiplano Province (AAP) in the Northern Andes to develop a 3D thermo-kinematic model that constrains past relief and exhumation rates. Results suggest that Late Cretaceous to Paleocene collision between the Caribbean Plateau and the continental margin caused high exhumation and formed a topography higher than present-day elevations. Between the late Paleocene and Oligocene, the reduction of tectonic activity caused thermal relaxation that drove regional bedrock cooling, while climatically-driven erosion significantly reduced relief, forming low-relief surfaces. During the Miocene, deformation and limited erosion resulted in a phase of Miocene topographic growth and low exhumation that preserved and deformed the previously formed low-relief surfaces. Our results demonstrate how mountain belts grow but also decay in response to the interactions and feedbacks between climate and tectonics.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Global and Planetary Change