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Volcán Tabor, Ibagué, Tolima

 Volume 4 Chapter 1

Chapter 1

Stratigraphy and Tectonics of the Neogene and Quaternary of the Cauca Basin of Colombia

Myriam Carlota LÓPEZ and Luz Mary TORO–TORO

Citation is suggested as: 

López, M.C. & Toro–Toro, L.M. 2019. Stratigraphy and tectonics of the Neogene and Quaternary of the Cauca Basin of Colombia. In: Gómez, J. & Pinilla–Pachon, A.O. (editors), The Geology of Colombia, Volume 4 Quaternary. Servicio Geológico Colombiano, Publicaciones Geológicas Especiales 38, p. 1–41. Bogotá.


The Cauca River valley is a Cenozoic intermountain basin with a tectonic history characterized by the alternation between compressional and extensional phases. Here, two new radiometric ages of the La Paila Formation are used as a reference to deduce the tectonic events that occurred in the Miocene – Quaternary interval. The Miocene – Pliocene La Paila Formation is a continental unit deposited during an extensional phase under the influence of arc volcanism. The overlying units, i.e., the Pleistocene Zarzal Formation and Quaternary deposits, record the compressive tectonic activity that started after the accretion of the Panamá Isthmus. The current deformation is registered in the Buga Salient by a series of west vergent thrust faults that are narrowing the present Cauca River valley. This salient is proposed as the western termination of the Ibagué Fault. The most recent manifestations of this deformation are the folds on Quaternary alluvial fans, which involve Holocene paleosoils, and the liquefaction of the deposits of the Zarzal Formation, which affects the overlying Quaternary deposits. On the Western Cordillera, a predominantly transcurrent tectonic style characterizes the recent deformation. It is proposed that the structure of the most recent deformation has occurred due to the indentation of a shallow continental wedge that has been introduced below the Cretaceous basement of the valley.

Keywords: La Paila Formation age, tectonic inversion, active folding, liquefaction, paleoseismicity.