The Valparaiso Basin constitutes a unique and prominent deep-water forearc basin underlying a 40-km by 60-km mid-slope terrace at 2.5-km water depth on the central Chile margin. Seismic-reflection data, collected as part of the CONDOR investigation, image a 3-3.5-km thick sediment succession that fills a smoothly sagged, margin-parallel, elongated trough at the base of the upper slope. In response to underthrusting of the Juan Ferna??ndez Ridge on the Nazca plate, the basin fill is increasingly deformed in the seaward direction above seaward-vergent outer forearc compressional highs. Syn-depositional growth of a large, margin-parallel monoclinal high in conjunction with sagging of the inner trough of the basin created stratal geometries similar to those observed in forearc basins bordered by large accretionary prisms. Margin-parallel compressional ridges diverted turbidity currents along the basin axis and exerted a direct control on sediment depositional processes. As structural depressions became buried, transverse input from point sources on the adjacent upper slope formed complex fan systems with sediment waves characterising the overbank environment, common on many Pleistocene turbidite systems. Mass failure as a result of local topographic inversion formed a prominent mass-flow deposit, and ultimately resulted in canyon formation and hence a new focused point source feeding the basin. The Valparaiso Basin is presently filled to the spill point of the outer forearc highs, causing headward erosion of incipient canyons into the basin fill and allowing bypass of sediment to the Chile Trench. Age estimates that are constrained by subduction-related syn-depositional deformation of the upper 700-800m of the basin fill suggest that glacio-eustatic sea-level lowstands, in conjunction with accelerated denudation rates, within the past 350 ka may have contributed to the increase in simultaneously active point sources along the upper slope as well as an increased complexity of proximal depositional facies.
Additional publication details
Impact of structural and autocyclic basin-floor topography on the depositional evolution of the deep-water Valparaiso forearc basin, central Chile