The enigma of continental plateaus formed in the absence of continental collision is embodied by the Altiplano-Puna, which stretches for 1800 km along the Central Andes and attains a width of 350–400 km. The plateau correlates spatially and temporally with Andean arc magmatism, but it was uplifted primarily because of crustal thickening produced by horizontal shortening of a thermally softened lithosphere. Nonetheless, known shortening at the surface accounts for only 70–80% of the observed crustal thickening, suggesting that magmatic addition and other processes such as lithospheric thinning, upper mantle hydration, or tectonic underplating may contribute significantly to thickening. Uplift in the region of the Altiplano began around 25 Ma, coincident with increased convergence rate and inferred shallowing of subduction; uplift in the Puna commenced 5–10 million years later.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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