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This paper presents a set of paleogeographic maps that illustrate the formation and evolution of the Caribbean from latest Triassic to latest Jurassic. Stratigraphic data and plate-tectonic models indicate that the Caribbean first evolved as a system of latest Triassic–Middle Jurassic rift valleys in west-central Pangea. Probably since the Bajocian, but certainly since the Oxfordian, it became a marine seaway connecting western Tethys with the eastern Pacific. In contrast, abundant paleontological data strongly suggest that the seaway across west-central Pangea opened during the Early Jurassic (Hettangian-Pliensbachian), which data conflict with the stratigraphic data. This contradiction between paleontology (biogeographic interpretations) and stratigraphy (paleogeographic interpretation) reveals our insufficient knowledge about the Mesozoic geology of west-central Pangea.

This paper is a contribution to IUGS/UNESCO IGCP Project 433.

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