The interaction of the northern Nazca and southwestern Caribbean oceanic plates with northwestern South America (NWSA) and the collision of the Panama-Choco arc (PCA) have significant implications on the evolution of the northern Andes. Based on a quantitative kinematic reconstruction of the Caribbean and Farallon/Farallon-derived plates, we reconstructed the subducting geometries beneath NWSA and the PCA accretion to the continent. The persistent northeastward migration of the Caribbean plate relative to NWSA in Cenozoic time caused the continuous northward advance of the Farallon-Caribbean plate boundary, which in turn resulted in its progressive concave trench bending against NWSA. The increasing complexity during the Paleogene included the onset of Caribbean shallow subduction, the PCA approaching the continent, and the forced shallow Farallon subduction that ended in the fragmentation of the Farallon Plate into the Nazca and Cocos plates and the Coiba and Malpelo microplates by the late Oligocene. The convergence tectonics after late Oligocene comprised the accretional process of the PCA to NWSA, which evolved from subduction erosion of the forearc to collisional tectonics by the middle Miocene, as well as changes of convergence angle and slab dip of the Farallon-derived plates, and the attachment of the Coiba and Malpelo microplates to the Nazca plate around 9 Ma, resulting in a change of convergence directions. During the Pliocene, the Nazca slab broke at 5.5 & DEG;N, shaping the modern configuration. Overall, the proposed reconstruction is supported by geophysical data and is well correlated with the magmatic and deformation history of the northern Andes.
González, R., Oncken, O., Faccenna, C., Le Breton, E., Bezada, M., Mora, A. (2023). Kinematics and Convergent Tectonics of the Northwestern South American Plate During the Cenozoic. GEOCHEMISTRY, GEOPHYSICS, GEOSYSTEMS, 24(7) [10.1029/2022GC010827].