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Abstract

Passive-margin strata of Cretaceous through Eocene age are exposed in northeastern Venezuela and provide a rare opportunity for the study of the eustatic and tectonic controls of stratigraphic development. The sequence stratigraphy of these strata has been analyzed in conjunction with paleogeographic analysis, and seven regionally extensive sequence boundaries are identified between Hauterivian and late Eocene time: latest ? Hauterivian, two in Early-Middle Albian, Middle-Late Albian, Late Santonian, mid-Maastrichtian, and late middle Eocene. These sequence boundaries have an average spacing of ~ 16 my (typical of second-order sequences). Stratigraphic development and sequences were controlled by both tectonism and eustasy. Three tectonic episodes are most relevant to the stratigraphic development of the northeastern Venezuelan passive margin: (1) a Hauterivian (anomaly MIO) plate motion change between North America and South America-west Africa; (2) Aptian-Albian rifting and opening of the Equatorial Atlantic; and (3) Tertiary, eastward migration with respect to South America of the Caribbean plate. The effects of these tectonic events can at least partially account for Early Cretaceous and Eocene sedimentologic events and sequence development in northeastern Venezuela. Eustatic control of sequence stratigraphic, lithostratigraphic, and paleogeographic development is most probable in Late Cretaceous time. Eustatic fluctuations appear to be less frequent or of much smaller magnitude than is typically concluded from other more tectonically active areas.

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