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The greater Caribbean region has been divided into more than 100 geologic provinces, some of which are tectonostratigraphic terranes or suspect terranes as defined by Coney, Jones, and Monger (1980). The principal criteria for distinguishing provinces are groups of rocks that differ from their immediate neighbors with respect to: (1) rock lithology, thickness, and age, (2) structural style, (3) presence or absence of outcropping igneous rocks, (4) degree of metamorphism, (5) physiographic expression, (6) nature of crust, and other characteristics. Many of the provinces thus identified are bordered by known major faults, including suture and transform zones; other provinces are bordered by unexposed or cryptic faults; and still other boundaries are drawn on the basis of major changes in rock facies, and so are not boundaries of tectonostratigraphic terranes. Paleomagnetic data, far from complete in the region, indicate that many of the provinces have experienced large tectonic translations and rotations.

Colors and patterns have been used on the map in an attempt to portray provinces that appear to be geologically similar in rock type and age, and style and age of principal deformation. For example, Neogene accretionary prisms of the Lesser Antilles, North Caribbean, South Caribbean, North Panama, and Pacific margin deformed belts are shown by the same color, with slight variations in pattern to indicate apparent structural differences between the deformed belts.

Many provinces defined here can be further subdivided on the basis of existing information, and many changes will be required as new data accumulate.

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