Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Andean surface uplift constrained by radiogenic isotopes of arc lavas

Scott, E.M.; Allen, M.B.; Macpherson, C.G.; McCaffrey, K.J.W.; Davidson, J.P.; Saville, C.; Ducea, M.N.

Andean surface uplift constrained by radiogenic isotopes of arc lavas Thumbnail


E.M. Scott

C.G. Macpherson

J.P. Davidson

C. Saville

M.N. Ducea


Climate and tectonics have complex feedback systems which are difficult to resolve and remain controversial. Here we propose a new climate-independent approach to constrain regional Andean surface uplift. 87Sr/86Sr and 143Nd/144Nd ratios of Quaternary frontal-arc lavas from the Andean Plateau are distinctly crustal (>0.705 and <0.5125, respectively) compared to non-plateau arc lavas, which we identify as a plateau discriminant. Strong linear correlations exist between smoothed elevation and 87Sr/86Sr (R2 = 0.858, n = 17) and 143Nd/144Nd (R2 = 0.919, n = 16) ratios of non-plateau arc lavas. These relationships are used to constrain 200 Myr of surface uplift history for the Western Cordillera (present elevation 4200 ± 516 m). Between 16 and 26°S, Miocene to recent arc lavas have comparable isotopic signatures, which we infer indicates that current elevations were attained in the Western Cordillera from 23 Ma. From 23–10 Ma, surface uplift gradually propagated southwards by ~400 km.


Scott, E., Allen, M., Macpherson, C., McCaffrey, K., Davidson, J., Saville, C., & Ducea, M. (2018). Andean surface uplift constrained by radiogenic isotopes of arc lavas. Nature Communications, 9, Article 969.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jan 24, 2018
Online Publication Date Mar 6, 2018
Publication Date Mar 6, 2018
Deposit Date Jul 21, 2017
Publicly Available Date Jan 11, 2018
Journal Nature Communications
Publisher Nature Research
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 9
Article Number 969


Accepted Journal Article (1 Mb)

Publisher Licence URL

Copyright Statement
Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit

You might also like

Downloadable Citations