Thick-skin orogen–foreland interactions and their controlling factors, Northern Andes of Colombia
The study draws from reflection seismic, in-situ stress and low-temperature geochronology data on the Eastern Cordillera–Llanos foreland basin system of Colombia, which is an example of the retro-wedge of the orogen with an advancing subduction zone. The system was obliquely converging during deposition of the Lower Oligocene–Lower Miocene Carbonera to recent Guayabo formations, recording it by the northeastward depocentre shift in the proximal Llanos Basin. While the southern portion of the foreland did not flex and undergo flexural normal faulting after Carbonera deposition, the northern portion did. The earthquake data indicate that the northern Eastern Cordillera undergoes strengthening by internal deformation, while the southern segment is already strong enough to undergo significant displacements dominantly along its bounding fault systems. Furthermore, the southern segment initiated detachment of the first thick-skin blocks from the proximal Llanos Basin. Such co-existence of different convergence maturity stages along the orogen strike allows unravelling of its development starting with internal deformation and foreland flexure, followed by mountain building and large-scale boundary fault displacements, to the large-scale foreland deformation. The onset of new foreland accretion seems to be controlled by the resistance of the foreland plate to flexing, given that the orogenic engine continues to drive convergence.