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The west section of the Southern Caribbean Mountains lies in north-central Venezuela and consists of three belts; a coastal range, an interior range, and a median zone. Previous workers devised a distinctive stratigraphic column for each belt, because each appeared to contain a unique succession of rocks, the rocks are too metamorphosed to be dated by paleontologic or radiometric means, and each belt is separated from the others by faults. In the more recent studies it has been suggested that the interior range originated far north of its present position and slid south in Maestrichtian-Paleocene times under the action of gravity.

The results of detailed mapping south of Caracas and of a reconnaissance of the entire mountain range indicate that the three belts may be essentially in place, representing a formerly continuous section shortened by thrusting.

The submergence, sedimentation, and volcanism, and the successive phases of metamorphism, faulting, pronounced uplift, and rapid erosion involved in the formation of the Southern Caribbean Mountains took place in overlapping regions. The superposition of these regions can be accounted for by assuming a linear, highenergy zone, localized as a depression at the surface of the mantle, being overriden progressively by thin continental crust which thickened inland. The broad llanos basin south of the Caribbean Mountains may represent the current site of the proposed depression, now covered by continental crust of average thickness. The major structural trends appear to have shifted progressively during formation of the mountains, suggesting that South America rotated anti-clockwise during the course of its inferred passage northward across the depression.

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