DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5027/andgeoV37n1-a04

Tectonic and climatic effects in the morphologic configuration of the coastal relief of northern Chile.

Jorge Quezada, Jose Luis Cerda, Arturo Jensen

Abstract


This work analyzes the morphological features of the western margin of the northern Chile Coastal Cordillera, characterized by the presence of a major Coastal Cliff. The main purpose of this research is to better understand the tectonic and climatic controls on the topography. The methodology used consists basically of a detailed study of the topography with quantitative geomorphic indexes such as incision grade, hypsometric curves and integrals, thalweg profiles and sinuosity index. These are applied to digital elevation models and satellite images. The main results show that the topography of the western margin of the Coastal Cordillera, exhibits an increasing intensity of the erosion with latitude. This increment is non uniform. The tectonic processes that produced coastal subsidence/uplift and fault activity, and the erosion of the paleotopography of Coastal Cordillera due to processes related with the construction of Coastal Cliff and increasing rainfall, modify the morphology of the coastal border of north Chile. The existence and conservation of the Coastal Cliff result from a non-equilibrium between the uplift and erosion rates. Both rates have one-two order magnitude difference, controlled by the extreme hyperarid climate of the Atacama Desert. These conditions prevailed at least for the last 2 m.yrs. The variations in the intensity of the erosion from north to south are interpreted as the result of the southward increase in precipitacion by one order of magnitude.

How to cite this article Quezada, J., Cerda, J., and Jensen, A., 2010, Tectonic and climatic effects in the morphologic configuration of the coastal relief of northern Chile.: Andean Geology, v. 37, no. 1, p. 78-109., doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.5027/andgeoV37n1-a04