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The Jurassic age La Quinta Formation in the Sierra de Perijá of northwestern Venezuela consists of red continental sedimentary rocks, interbedded volcanic rocks, and associated hypabyssal intrusives. These strata were deposited in a series of graben that parallel the present Sierra de Perijá and the Venezuelan (Mérida) Andes. Trace element and isotopic data indicate that crustal contamination and/or anatexis were important factors in the petrogenesis of the igneous rocks. Red beds, some with volcanic rocks, of similar type, age, and tectonic setting are found from Mexico to Chile, suggesting that the depositional environment was related to convergent plate margin processes. Tension related to opening of the Caribbean and/or separation of Central America and North America may also have been a factor in Jurassic time. However, paleomagnetic data indicate a differential rotation between the Sierra de Perijá and the Venezuelan Andes that cannot be reconciled with simple models of tension and separation. This suggests that the Sierra de Perijá is an allochthonous terrane emplaced during Jurassic time. Its current setting is the result of a composite of subduction, rifting associated with opening of the Caribbean, and transcurrent motion.

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