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Departments & Programs


Magallanes Basin, Chile

Margin of the Wildcat Channel Complex outcropping on the eastern side of Sierra

Margin of the Wildcat Channel Complex outcropping on the eastern side of Sierra del Toro, Jobe (2010)

The Magallanes Basin in southern Chile was formed in the Jurassic through continental rifting and was subsequently closed and filled in a retroarc foreland setting from the Early Cretaceous to the middle Tertiary. The major deep-water phase lasted from Early Cretaceous to Late Cretaceous and involved deposition of over 5000 meters of siliciclastic rocks belonging to the Punta Barrosa (Lower-Upper Cretaceous), Cerro Toro (Upper Cretaceous), and Tres Pasos (Upper Cretaceous-Tertiary) Formations. The general geology and sedimentology of the Magallanes Basin sequence was studied in the 1960's and 1970's (e.g. Winn and Dott, 1977, 1979). SPODDS research in the basin was initiated in 1999 and has continued to the present. Outcrops in Torres del Paine National Park and areas to the east and south as far as Puerto Natales provide superb, 3-dimensional exposures of a number of large deep-water, conglomerate-filled channel systems developed within the foreland basin and associated slope, slope basin, levee, and lobe areas. Eight PhD theses have involved research in the basin and two additional PhD projects are in progress. Special SPODDS field trip for affiliates to the Magallanes Basin were offered in 2001, 2004, 2006 and 2009.

Theses and dissertations include those of Will Crane (2004) who studied the Paine channel complex in the Cerro Toro Formation in the Silla Syncline, Torres del Paine National Park, Andrea Fildani (2004) studied the Punta Barrosa Formation to better understand the transition from the Rocas Verdes back-arc basin into the Magallanes retroarc foreland setting, Steve Hubbard (2006) documented the architecture and stratigraphy of the deep-water deposits in the Cerro Toro Formation, Brian Romans (2008) analyzed the controls on sedimentation in this tectonically active setting by studying the Tres Paso Formation, Jake Covault (2008) studied the transition from deep- to shallow-water sedimentation in the Dorotea Formation, and Zane Jobe (2010) provided a detailed architectural study of the Cerro Toro coarse-conglomeratic channel belt deposits on Sierra del Toro. Dissertations in progress are focusing on the architecture and evolution of a Cerro Toro Formation feeder channel exposed at the Silla Syncline (Anne Bernhardt), 3D modeling of the coarse-conglomeratic deposits on Sierra del Toro (Lisa Stright) and a large scale study of the evolution of the Patagonia fold-thrust belt (Julie Fosdick).