Structural and Stratigraphic Elements
The generalized geologic map of Cuba (Figure 54) shows that the island is segmented into eight general areas of pre-upper Eocene outcrops surrounded by relatively undisturbed later Tertiary sediments. Although there are similarities between them, each area has its own stratigraphic and structural characteristics. From northeast to southwest, these areas can generally be grouped as follows: (1) north-central sedimentary terranes: from northern Las Villas to northern Oriente; (2) basic igneous-volcanic terranes: from northern Pinar del Rio to eastern Oriente; and (c) southwestern sedimentary terranes: from Pinar del Rio and Isla de la Juventud to southeastern Oriente.
These areas are complexly deformed structurally and are present-day topographic highs. They are surrounded by a relatively thin and much less disturbed cover of sediments ranging in age from late lower Eocene to Pleistocene. These areas are large-scale, mostly post-Eocene, uplifts.
Figures & Tables
The geology of Cuba has been a challenge to geologists because of features such as the presence of well-preserved Jurassic ammonites, the rich Tertiary foraminiferal faunas (including remarkable Paleogene orbitoids), the gigantic Upper Cretaceous rudistids, the spectacular limestone Mogotes of Pinar del Rio, the extensive outcrops of ultrabasic igneous rocks, the chromite and manganese deposits, and the extraordinary structural complexity. In addition to these features, the numerous petroleum seeps, many of them coming out of basic igneous rock, have attracted much attention.
It is interesting to read early papers by reputable geologists such as E. DeGoyler (1918), J. W. Lewis (1932), or R. H. Palmer (1945), and to realize how little was known or understood about the geology of the southern portion of the North American continent in the early part of the 20th century.
Much early understanding of the geology of Cuba resulted from a series of studies conducted between 1936 and 1946 by the University of Utrecht, Holland, under the direction of L. M. R. Rutten. Some resultant publications are Rutten (1936), MacGillavry (1937), Thiadens (1937a, b), Vermut (1937), van Wessen (1943), Keijzer (1945), Hermes (1945), and De Vletter (1946). These authors outlined the components of a classic geosyncline. Between the late 1930s and late 1950s, Cuban geologists and paleontologists, such as P. R. Ortega y Ros, J. Broderman, P. Bermudez, and J. F. Albear, published several articles about the island’s geology.
The search for oil has contributed significantly to the present understanding of the island’s geology.