Tectonics and paleogeography along the Amazon river

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2001-09-22

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The main structural and geomorphological features along the Amazon River are closely associated with Mesozoic and Cenozoic tectonic events. The Mesozoic tectonic setting is characterised by the Amazonas and Marajó Basins, two distinct extensional segments. The Amazonas Basin is formed by NNE-SSW normal faults, which control the emplacement of dolerite dykes and deposition of the sedimentary pile. In the more intense tectonic phase (mid-Late Cretaceous), the depocentres were filled with fluvial sequences associated with axial drainage systems, which diverge from the Lower Tapajós Arch. During the next subsidence phase, probably in the Early Tertiary, and under low rate extension, much of the drainage systems reversed, directing the paleo-Amazon River to flow eastwards. The Marajó Basin encompasses NW-SE normal faults and NE-SW strike-slip faults, with the latter running almost parallel to the extensional axes. The normal faults controlled the deposition of thick rift and post-rift sequences and the emplacement of dolerite dykes. During the evolution of the basin, the shoulder (Gurupá Arch) became distinct, having been modelled by drainage systems strongly controlled by the trend of the strike-slip faults. The Arari Lineament, which marks the northwest boundary of the Marajó Basin, has been working as a linkage corridor between the paleo and modern Amazon River with the Atlantic Ocean. The neotectonic evolution since the Miocene comprises two sets of structural and geomorphological features. The older set (Miocene-Pliocene) encompasses two NE-trending transpressive domains and one NW-trending transtensive domain, which are linked to E-W and NE-SW right-lateral strike-slip systems. The transpressive domains display aligned hills controlled by reverse faults and folds, and are separated by large plains associated with pull-apart basins along clockwise strike-slip systems (e.g. Tupinambarana Lineament). Many changes were introduced in the landscape by the transpressive and transtensive structures, such as the blockage of major rivers, which evolved to river-lakes, transgression of the sea over a large area in the Marajó region, and uplift of long and narrow blocks that are oblique to the trend of the main channel. The younger set (Pliocene-Holocene) refers to two triple-arm systems of rift/rift/strike-slip and strike-slip/strike-slip/rift types, and two large transtensive segments, which have controlled the orientation of the modern drainage patterns. © 2001 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.

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Journal of South American Earth Sciences, v. 14, n. 4, p. 335-347, 2001.

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