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Geology and Tectonics of Northwestern South America

The Pacific-Caribbean-Andean Junction

by (author) Fabio Cediel

edited by Robert Peter Shaw

Springer Nature
Initial publish date
Aug 2018
General, Environmental Science
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Aug 2018
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This book provides a comprehensive overview of the geological evolution of the Northern Andes and contiguous shield areas, with a focus upon Colombia. Updated geological interpretations are supported by modern lithogeochemical, seismic, gravity and magnetic data and radiogenic isotope and radiometric age determinations. The composite data permits a detailed interpretation of the tectono-magmatic history of the Northern Andean Block, including the Andes of Colombia, northern Ecuador, western Venezuela and eastern Panamá.

Tectonic reconstructions based upon characterization of more than thirty litho-tectonic and morpho-structural units, terrane assemblages and tectonic realms, and their bounding suture and fault systems, highlight the intimate and complementary Mesozoic-Cenozoic history of the Northern Andean Block and the Pacific and Caribbean Plates.

The complex nature of Northern Andean assembly contrasts with '-classical'- Central Andean '-Cordilleran-type'- orogenic models. Differences render the application of typical Cordilleran-type models inappropriate for the Colombian Andes.

The importance of underlying Proterozoic through mid-Mesozoic elements, in the development of Meso-Cenozoic Northern Andean orogeny-phase tectonic configurations is analyzed in the light of spatial-temporal studies and reconstructions related to basin formation, sedimentation, deformation, uplift mechanisms, structural style and magmatic evolution. The pre-Andean architecture of north western South America has played a pre-determinative role in the development of the Northern Andean orogenic system.


16 contributions analyze key stratigraphic, structural, metamorphic, magmatic and tectonic questions, and provide solutions as far as the most recent published field-based studies permit. The volume provides geological interpretations and tectonic models which contrast with repetitive theoretical proposals frequently found in the available literature.



About the authors

Contributor Notes

- Dr. Fabio Cediel: Studied engineering and chemistry at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, the University of Maryland (USA), the Ecole Polytechnique (Paris, France) and the Technische Hochschule Karlsruhe, (Karlsruhe, Germany) from 1953 to 1957. He was awarded a DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service) scholarship, and between 1960 and 1967 completed investigations at the Universität Stuttgart, Institut für Geologie (Germany) where he was obtained his Dipl.-Geol. and Doctor rerum natura (Dr. rer. nat.) for studies completed on Jurassic stratigraphy in the Murcia Province, Spain and the Eastern Cordillera, Colombia. Returning to Colombia, Cediel implemented regional studies of Paleozoic and Mesozoic stratigraphy, pioneering the application of paleo-geographic and tectonic analysis in the understanding of the geological evolution of the Colombian Andes.


In 1969, as co-founder of the geological consultancy GEOTEC, Cediel et al. published the first edition of the GEOTEC Geological Map of Colombia, and initiated a longstanding technical relationship with the petroleum and mineral resource exploration sectors. Field-based studies related to hydrocarbon and mineral exploration led to extensive mapping in the onshore Caribbean, and detailed surveys throughout the Guajira Peninsula. As well, they permitted the undertaking of key field transects beyond Colombia, in the Andes of Ecuador, Bolivia and Chile, as well as participation in the formulation of exploration projects in Venezuela and NE Brasíl.

Fabio Cediel most recently served as Senior Editor and co-author for the 15 volume set Petroleum Geology of Colombia, published by EAFIT University. Important works in which he has served as principle author include; Facies Distribution and Tectonic Setting through the Phanerozoic of Colombia (INGEOMINAS, 1994), Seismic Atlas of Colombia: Seismic Expression of Structural Styles in the Basins of Colombia (GEOTEC 1998), Geological Map of Colombia (GEOTEC 2000), and Tectonic Assembly of the Northern Andean Block (AAPG Memoir 79 2003).

He is currently a member of the Colombian National Academy of Sciences and the Colombian Association of Petroleum Geologists and Geophysicists. He has served as President to the Colombian Geological Society (1968), Delegate to the International Oceanographic Committee, Paris (1969), Editor of Geological Field Trips, Colombia (1959-1978), President of the Professional Geologists Council of Colombia (CPG, 1984-1986), and Scientific Advisor to INGEOMINAS (2002-2003) and ECOPETROL (2004). From 1968 through 1979, he served as Assistant and Associate Professor at the Universidad Nacional de Colombia (Bogotá).


Robert P. Shaw: Robert Shaw is generative exploration geologist, specializing in the search for metalliferous mineral deposits, with over 25 years of applied experience throughout the cordilleran regions of South and Central America. He holds a B.Sc. in Geology with First Class Honours (1987) and M.Sc. with specialization in Economic Geology (1990), both from the University of Alberta, Canada, where he also worked as a Research Associate and Sessional Lecturer.

Based in Medellín from 1994 through 2015, he formed the vanguard of the recent mineral exploration sector in Colombia, completing extensive field-based technical evaluations throughout the Colombian cordilleran region. From 1999-2010 he was affiliated with Bogotá-based GEOTEC, consulting to numerous companies in the petroleum and mineral resources sectors, whilst from 2000-2003 he acted as Structural Geology and Tectonics Consultant to the Geological Survey of Canada - Multi-National Andean Program, in Peru, Ecuador and Colombia.

During this period he presented on Colombian tectonics and mineral deposits at numerous conferences in North and South America. Works in which he has served as principle or co-author include; Gold mineralization in the Northern Andes: Magmatic Setting vs. Metallogeny (2000), A Paleo-Tectonic Analysis of Volcanogene and Sediment-hosted Base Metal Potential in the Colombian Cordilleras (2003), Towards a Litho-tectonic Analysis of Metallogeny in Colombia (2003), Tectonic Assembly of the Northern Andean Block (2003) and Phanerozoic Granitoid Magmatism in Colombia and the Tectono-magmatic Evolution of the Colombian Andes (2011).

From 2003-2010 he was Chief Geologist (Colombia) for AngloGold Ashanti, where in addition to supervising field-based exploration at the regional scale, he implemented a program of academic research and technical investigation applicable to the integral understanding of Colombian metallogeny throughout the Phanerozoic. During this tenure he participated in the planning, coordination, supervision and execution of a Ph.D. and numerous M.Sc.-level graduate theses, completed at the Universitat de Barcelona, Spain, Universidad Nacional, Colombia, Rhodes University, South Africa, University of Arizona, U.S.A., and the Universidade de Sao Paulo, Brasil. He continues to collaborate in exploration and investigation of Colombian mineral deposits, based out of Kelowna, British Columbia.