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Title: Epeirogeny of South America and evolution of Parnaíba Basin, northeast Brazil
Author: Rodríguez Tribaldos, Verónica
ISNI:       0000 0004 7227 1870
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2018
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It is recognised that some proportion of South American large-scale topography has been generated by convection within the Earth's mantle. Yet, spatial and temporal patterns of dynamic topography remain poorly understood. Variation of present-day dynamic topography can be mapped in the oceans by calculating residual depths with respect to the well-known age-depth relationship. Along the margins abutting South America, anomalies with amplitudes of $\pm1$ km and wavelengths of $\sim10^{3}$ km are observed. Onshore, dynamic topography is investigated by analysing a range of disparate datasets. Positive long-wavelength free-air gravity anomalies and slow shear-wave mantle velocities correlate with high plateaux of the Borborema Province and the Central Andean Altiplano. Admittance analyses of these regions are used to gauge dynamic support. Admittance of $ > 20$ mGal km$^{-1}$ at wavelengths $ > $ 500 km suggests partial dynamic support. In this context, inverse modelling of longitudinal river profiles is applied to retrieve a continental-scale uplift history. Erosional parameters are calibrated against an independently derived uplift history of the Borborema Province that reveals uplift in the last 30 Ma. Results suggest that the bulk of South American regional topography grew during Cenozoic times. In the Central Andean Altiplano and Southern Patagonia, most uplift occurred in the last 20 Ma. In both areas, widespread Cenozoic magmatism suggests that youthful uplift might be related to asthenospheric upwelling. Uplift histories are used to predict sediment flux to the Amazon Fan, which reveals that onset of the delta is a direct consequence of intensified Andean uplift. Analysis of the Parna\'iba cratonic basin of northeast Brazil is carried out to evaluate long-term evolution of vertical motions and to understand the mechanisms driving this basin's subsidence. Joint interpretation of a deep seismic reflection profile that traverses the basin and receiver function analyses reveal a 3 km thick basin underlain by three crustal blocks. Moho depths of 38--43 km are observed beneath the Amazon craton west of the basin, whereas depths of 35 km are found underneath the Borborema Province to the east. The Moho is located at 38--42 km depth beneath the basin. Stratigraphic architecture from shallow seismic reflection profiles reveals undisturbed deposition between Palaeozoic and Mesozoic times. Rift-type structures are locally imaged. Subsidence analysis reveals thermally-driven subsidence with thermal time constants of $\sim$ 70--80 Ma. Assessment of crustal thickness variations indicates that minimal extension of up to 80 km, with small stretching factors (up to 1.15), is plausible beneath Parna\'iba. One- and two-dimensional strain rate histories suggest that pre-Silurian rifting followed by thermal subsidence is possible if a minimum of 1 km of syn-rift deposition occurred. Basin-wide erosional unconformities are observed throughout the sedimentary section and correlate with departures from long-term subsidence trends. These steps are interpreted as transient uplift events that led to development of ephemeral landscapes, suggesting that dynamic topography could have played a role in the evolution of this Phanerozoic basin.
Supervisor: White, Nicky Sponsor: BP plc
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Dynamic Topography ; South American Uplift ; Drainage Analysis ; Parnai´ba Basin ; Cratonic Basins