Tectonically driven drainage reorganization in the Eastern Cordillera, Colombia
- Journal Article
High-elevation plateaus that are positioned in between topographic barriers are common orogenic features in the South American continent, formed under a range of evolving environmental conditions. For example, in the central Andes (Bolivia-Argentina), the Puna-Altiplano is arid and endorheic with a poorly developed fluvial system, while in the northern Andes (Colombia) the Chiquinquirà and Tunja highlands are characterized by a humid equatorial exorheic fluvial system. In addition to a plateau-like low-relief surface at 2500 m, the landscape of the northern Eastern Cordillera and Santander Massif (northern Colombia) displays a lower elevation (~1500 m) low-relief landscape (Mesas) comprising river captures, windgaps, and a disconnected alluvial fan that collectively record a transient state. This configuration has been achieved through a combination of compressive deformation and sub-crustal processes. The compressive shortening started to occur in the Paleogene and is still active, whereas regional surface uplift related to slab flattening and mantle wedge hydration started in the Late Miocene/Pliocene. To disentangle the crustal vs sub-crustal forcing and to investigate the relative timing of drainage network evolution we combine the analysis of topography, hydrography (river longitudinal profiles, morphometric parameters, drainage divide stability), knickpoint migration (celerity model), paleo-longitudinal profile modeling, satellite images, and field observations. In particular, we show that during the development of the low-relief Mesas landscape the older Chiquinquirà highland was a closed drainage and that the lower portion of the Suárez River flowed northward into the Bucaramanga depression forced by the Los Cobardes Anticline topographic barrier. The Suárez River collected waters from the southern Santander Massif and the upper reach of the Chicamocha River, which was draining the Tunja highland. An abandoned windgap deposit on the eastern edge of the Mesa de Barichara suggests that the lower portion of the Chicamocha River was not yet formed. Subsequent to the Chiquinquirà highland drainage opening, two main tributaries of the Magdalena River, the Lebrija and Sogamoso, captured the Suárez River in a short temporal sequence. A knickpoint celerity model allows us to date the Lebrija capture of the Bucaramanga depression at ~260–270 ka and the subsequent Sogamoso capture at 190–220 ka. Only during this final stage, the lowermost Chicamocha River section formed and the drainage network developed to its present configuration. Finally, we suggest that the early Cenozoic rift inversion has controlled the drainage network pattern and the late Miocene sub-crustal-induced surface uplift has driven the main fluvial network reorganization. © 2021 Elsevier B.V. Show more
Journal / seriesGeomorphology
Pages / Article No.
SubjectRiver capture; Landscape evolution; Active orogen; Colombia
Organisational unit03956 - Vance, Derek / Vance, Derek
03946 - Schönbächler, Maria / Schönbächler, Maria
03868 - Eglinton, Timothy I. / Eglinton, Timothy I.
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