North Andes Plate

North Andes Plate
North Andes Plate (note: outdated Nazca Plate)
Type Minor
Movement1 north-west
Speed1 23mm/year
Features   Colombia


1Relative to the African Plate

The North Andes Plate or North Andes Block is a small tectonic plate[dubious ] (microplate) located in the northern Andes. It is squeezed between the faster moving South American Plate and the Nazca Plate to the southwest. Due to the subduction of the Malpelo and Coiba Plates, this area is very prone to volcanic and seismic activity, with many historic earthquakes.

Boundaries [ edit ]

The North Andes Plate is bound by (clockwise from north):

  1. Caribbean Plate
  2. South American Plate
  3. Malpelo Plate (before 2017 considered part of Nazca Plate)[1]
  4. Coiba Plate (before 2016 considered part of Nazca Plate)[2]
  5. Panama Plate

Terranes [ edit ]

Chibcha Terrane is enclosed by the Bucaramanga-Santa Marta Fault (BSF, orange), northernmost Oca Fault (Oca, white), Eastern Frontal Fault System (EFFS, yellow) and Romeral Fault System (RFS, violet)

Tahamí Terrane is enclosed by BSF, OCA and RFS

• Anacona, Arqúia and Quebradagrande Terranes are emplaced by RFS

La Guajira Terrane is enclosed by BSF and northernmost by Oca

Caribe Terrane is enclosed by BSF, RFS and plate boundaries with Coiba (red) and Malpelo Plates (purple)

The Colombian part of the North Andes Plate is subdivided into several terranes:[3]

Terranes belonging to the Colombian part of the North Andes Plate
Abbr Name Age range Paleomap Basins Complexes Ranges Departments Comments Notes
CHT Chibcha Mesoproterozoic Catatumbo


Eastern Cordillera (Altiplano Cundiboyacense - Bogotá)


Ariarí, Garzón, Floresta, Quetame, Santander Central, Eastern, Perijá, SNSM, San Lucas, La Macarena Antioquia, Arauca, Bogotá, Bolívar, Boyacá, Caquetá, Casanare, Cesar, Cundinamarca, Huila, Magdalena, Meta, Putumayo, Norte de Santander, Santander, Tolima Largest terrane, named after Chibcha [4] [5] [6]
TA Anacona Devonian none Anacona Central Antioquia Tiny terrane
TT Tahamí Permian Amagá


Antioquia Central, Macuira, SNSM Antioquia, Bolívar, Caldas, Cauca, La Guajira, Magdalena, Nariño, Risaralda, Sucre, Valle del Cauca Most extensive terrane
TAR Arquía Early Cretaceous none Arquía Central Antioquia, Caldas, Cauca, Nariño, Quindío, Risaralda, Valle del Cauca Thinly banded terrane [7] [8] [9]
TQ Quebradagrande none Quebradagrande Central Antioquia, Caldas, Cauca, Nariño, Quindío, Risaralda, Valle del Cauca Thinly banded terrane [7] [9] [10]

[11] [12] [13]
TC Caribe Late Cretaceous Cauca-Patía


Sinú-San Jacinto


Santa Cecilia-La Equis Central, Western, Darién, Baudó, Montes de María Antioquia, Atlántico, Caldas, Cauca, Chocó, Córdoba, Nariño, Quindío, Risaralda, Sucre, Valle del Cauca El Totumo
TLG La Guajira La Guajira Etpana, Macuira Macuira, SNSM La Guajira, Magdalena Tayrona, Cabo de la Vela

Tectonics [ edit ]

Subduction of the Coiba Plate underneath the North Andes Plate causes frequent earthquakes in the Bucaramanga Nest, the most seismically active area in the world. The Bucaramanga-Santa Marta Fault stretches along the plate for more than 600 kilometers from north to south. The plate boundary with the South American Plate is most tectonically active along a more than 900 kilometer long megaregional fault system; the Eastern Frontal Fault System.

This fault system, extending into Ecuador and Venezuela all along the northern Andes, separates the terranes from the North Andes Plate from:[3]

South American Plate features bordering the Chibcha Terrane of the North Andes Plate
Abbr Name Age range Basins Complexes Ranges Departments Comments Notes
PRNJ Río Negro-Juruena Province Paleoproterozoic Llanos


Mitú, Parguaza, Guaviare Chiribiquete, Mavecure Arauca, Caquetá, Casanare, Guainía, Guaviare, Meta, Putumayo, Vaupés, Vichada Part of Amazonian Craton [14] [15]

References [ edit ]

  1. ^ Zhang et al., 2017
  2. ^ Chiarabba et al., 2016, p.22
  3. ^ a b Gómez Tapias et al., 2015, p.209
  4. ^ Manosalva Sánchez et al., 2017, p.84
  5. ^ Mantilla Figueroa et al., 2015, p.42
  6. ^ Toro Toro et al., 2014, p.22
  7. ^ a b Plancha 364
  8. ^ Plancha 365
  9. ^ a b Plancha 387
  10. ^ Plancha 410
  11. ^ Plancha 411
  12. ^ Plancha 429
  13. ^ Plancha 430
  14. ^ Bonilla et al., 2016, p.19
  15. ^ Arango Mejía et al., 2012, p.25

Bibliography [ edit ]

Maps [ edit ]

Further reading [ edit ]

  • Bird, P. (2003) An updated digital model of plate boundaries, Geochemistry Geophysics Geosystems, 4(3), 1027, doi:10.1029/2001GC000252. [1]
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