Deformation of the central Andes (15°-27°S) derived from a flow model of subduction zones

S. Wdowinski, R. J. O'Connell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


A simple viscous flow model of a subduction zone is used to calculate the deformation within continental lithosphere above a subducting slab. The formulation accounts for two forces that dominate the deformation in the overriding lithosphere: tectonic forces and buoyancy forces. The tectonic forces arise from the subduction of oceanic lithosphere and produce minor extension in the lithosphere near the trench and compression farther inland. Buoyancy forces can induce horizontal pressure gradients due to variations in crustal thickness, which cause lithospheric extension where the crust is thick. Numerical solutions, obtained by using a finite element technique, are compared with observations from the central Andes (15°-27°S). The model predicts the observed deformation pattern of extension in the forearc, compression in the Western Monocline (corresponding to magmatic activity), extension in the Altiplano, compression in the Eastern Monocline and Subandes, and no deformation in the Brazilian Shield. -from Authors

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)12,245-12,255
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research
Issue numberB7
StatePublished - 1991

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Forestry
  • Oceanography
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Soil Science
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Palaeontology


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