Helen Whitty
Department: Geology
Advisor: Arlo Weil

Structural and Paleomagnetic Analyses of Structural Deformation in the South-Central Andean System

Along the western coast of South America, the Nazca Plate, composed of dense oceanic crust, is actively subducting beneath the South American Plate, which has caused the Andean orogeny. Deformation styles vary along the length of the orogen, which makes this region ideal for studying intraplate contractional deformation at a convergent ocean-continent boundary. Variations in crustal architecture may be influenced by a number of factors, including subduction geometry, shortening rates, stress/strain directions, and vertical axis rotation.

This research project seeks to better understand the factors that control variation in structural deformation along the Andean orogenic system, specifically in the south-central Andean system, which is made up of thick-skin, thin-skin, and hybrid components. Through structural and paleomagnetic studies of rocks from this region, we will test the relationships between subduction geometry, stress/strain directions, and vertical axis rotation.

Scientific knowledge gained through this research will contribute to a broader understanding of the previous and ongoing kinematic evolution of this particular orogenic system as well as that of convergent ocean-continent boundaries in general.