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Seismic sections across the southern margin of the Caribbean reveal structures related to the convergence of the Caribbean and South American plates. The South Caribbean Deformed Belt and its eastward extension, the Curacao Ridge, is a zone of intensely deformed Cretaceous and Tertiary sediments that lies along the southern edge of the Colombia and Venezuela Basins. Undeformed sediments of the Caribbean basins abut the deformed belt abruptly to the north. To the south, the South Caribbean Deformed Belt gives way to older deformed belts of the Netherlands and Venezuelan Antilles Ridge and to the continental margin of Colombia and Venezuela containing pre-Tertiary structures. Along most of the South Caribbean Deformed Belt an apron of sediments progrades northward across the deformed belt suggesting active deformation at the northern edge of the belt and progressively older Tertiary deformation to the south. Caribbean oceanic crust extends southward beneath the deformed belt and southward-dipping reflections occur within the deformed belt possibly indicating slices of oceanic crust incorporated within it. Bottom simulating reflectors along parts of the deformed belt indicate the presence of gas hydrates. The chemical phase relationships of gas hydrates and the depth of the bottom simulating reflections indicate a thermal gradient of approximately 0.04 degrees/meter.

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