Synchronous 29–19 Ma arc hiatus, exhumation and subduction of forearc in southwestern Mexico
J. Duncan Keppie, Dante J. Morán-Zenteno, Barbara Martiny, Enrique González-Torres, 2009. "Synchronous 29–19 Ma arc hiatus, exhumation and subduction of forearc in southwestern Mexico", The Origin and Evolution of the Caribbean Plate, K. H. James, M. A. Lorente, J. L. Pindell
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The geology of southwestern Mexico (102–96°W) records several synchronous events in the Late Oligocene–Early Miocene (29–19 Ma): (1) a hiatus in arc magmatism; (2) removal of a wide (c. 210 km) Upper Eocene–Lower Oligocene forearc; (3) exhumation of 13–20 km of Upper Eocene–Lower Oligocene arc along the present day coast; and (4) breakup of the Farallon Plate. Events 2 and 3 have traditionally been related to eastward displacement of the Chortís Block from a position off southwestern Mexico between 105°W and 97°W; however at 30 Ma the Chortís Block would have lain east of 95°W. We suggest that the magmatic hiatus was caused by subduction of the forearc, which replaced the mantle wedge by relatively cool crust. Assuming that the subducted block separated along the forearc–arc boundary, a likely zone of weakness due to magmatism, the subducted forearc is estimated to be wedge-shaped varying from zero to c. 90 km in thickness; however such a wedge is not apparent in seismic data across central Mexico. Given the 121 km/Ma convergence rate between 20 and 10 Ma and 67 km/Ma since 10 Ma, it is probable that any forearc has been deeply subducted. Potential causes for subduction of the forearc include collision of an oceanic plateau with the trench, and a change in plate kinematics synchronous with breakup of the Farallon Plate and initiation of the Guadalupe–Nazca spreading ridge.
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The Origin and Evolution of the Caribbean Plate
This book considers the geology between North and South America. It contributes to debate about the area's evolution, particularly that of the Caribbean. Prevailing understanding is that the Caribbean formed in the Pacific and was engulfed between the Americas as the latter drifted west. Accordingly, the Caribbean Plate comprises internal, Jurassic–Cretaceous oceanic rocks, thickened into a Cretaceous hotspot/plume plateau, with obducted ophiolites and Cretaceous–Palaeogene, subduction-related, intra-oceanic volcanic arc and metamorphosed arc/continental rocks exposed on its margins. An alternative interpretation is that the Caribbean evolved in place. It consists largely of continental crust, extended in the Triassic–Jurassic, which subsided below thick Jurassic–Cretaceous carbonate rocks and flood basalts, and Cenozoic carbonate and clastic rocks. After uplift of ‘oceanic’ and volcanic arc rocks onto (continental) margins, the interior foundered in the Middle Eocene. Papers range from regional overviews and discussions of Caribbean origins to aspects of local geology arranged in a circum-Caribbean tour and ending in the interior. They address tectonics, structure, geochronology, seismicity, igneous and metamorphic petrology, metamorphism, geochemistry, stratigraphy and palaeontology.