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The removal of lithosphere on the underside of thecrust and the expansion of hot asthenosphere many kilometers beneath a continent would cause the overlying area to “pop up,” creating an area of high topography (Garzione et al., 2006, Kayand Mahlburg-Kay, 1991).

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The study of orogenic plateaus has become of wide interest because of a growing recognition that orogenic plateaus, like the Mesozoic Nevadaplano, existed in the past (De Celles, 2004).

In the field of tectonics, the origin and evolution of orogenic plateaus is largely unknown despite recent study.

Orogenic plateau formation and mountain building in the Andes created high topography and relief in the region, leading to an environment conducive to physical erosion.

Using zircon (U-Th)/He thermochronology to capture the thermal history of a vertical column of rock, my research seeks to relate the results to erosional history of the upper crust in the Eastern Cordillera, a link which reflects tectonic activity.

Eastward growth of the Altiplano-Puna implies a complicated relationship between uplift and erosion at the plateau margin.

The interior of the plateau is dry due to a rain shadow effect resulting from high topography to the east and has little relief.

The Altiplano-Puna Plateau is an area of high topography and low relief stretching from Bolivia through Argentina.

This prominent geologic feature of the central Andes is comparable to the Tibetan Plateau of Southeast Asia and represents an ideal natural laboratory to explore the development of orogenic plateaus such as these (Barnes and Ehlers, 2009, Rahl et al., unpublished).

From these results, we can gain insight on erosion rates that are roughly equivalent with exhumation rates.

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