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The North American-Caribbean Plate boundary in Mexico-Guatemala-Honduras

By
Lothar Ratschbacher
Lothar Ratschbacher
1
Geowissenschaften, Technische Universität Bergakademie Freiberg
,
09599 Freiberg
,
Germany
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Leander Franz
Leander Franz
1
Geowissenschaften, Technische Universität Bergakademie Freiberg
,
09599 Freiberg
,
Germany
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Myo Min
Myo Min
1
Geowissenschaften, Technische Universität Bergakademie Freiberg
,
09599 Freiberg
,
Germany
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Raik Bachmann
Raik Bachmann
1
Geowissenschaften, Technische Universität Bergakademie Freiberg
,
09599 Freiberg
,
Germany
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Uwe Martens
Uwe Martens
2
Geological and Environmental Sciences
,
Stanford University
,
Stanford, CA 94305
,
USA
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Klaus Stanek
Klaus Stanek
1
Geowissenschaften, Technische Universität Bergakademie Freiberg
,
09599 Freiberg
,
Germany
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Konstanze Stübner
Konstanze Stübner
1
Geowissenschaften, Technische Universität Bergakademie Freiberg
,
09599 Freiberg
,
Germany
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Bruce K. Nelson
Bruce K. Nelson
3
Earth and Space Sciences
,
University of Washington
,
Seattle, WA 98195
,
USA
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Uwe Herrmann
Uwe Herrmann
3
Earth and Space Sciences
,
University of Washington
,
Seattle, WA 98195
,
USA
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Bodo Weber
Bodo Weber
4
CICESE
,
22860 Ensenada, B.C.
,
Mexico
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Margarita López-Martínez
Margarita López-Martínez
4
CICESE
,
22860 Ensenada, B.C.
,
Mexico
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Raymond Jonckheere
Raymond Jonckheere
1
Geowissenschaften, Technische Universität Bergakademie Freiberg
,
09599 Freiberg
,
Germany
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Blanka Sperner
Blanka Sperner
1
Geowissenschaften, Technische Universität Bergakademie Freiberg
,
09599 Freiberg
,
Germany
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Marion Tichomirowa
Marion Tichomirowa
1
Geowissenschaften, Technische Universität Bergakademie Freiberg
,
09599 Freiberg
,
Germany
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Michael O. McWilliams
Michael O. McWilliams
2
Geological and Environmental Sciences
,
Stanford University
,
Stanford, CA 94305
,
USA
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Mark Gordon
Mark Gordon
5
Department of Geology and Geophysics
,
Rice University
,
Houston, TX 77251-1892
,
USA
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Martin Meschede
Martin Meschede
6
Geowissenschaften, Universität Greifswald
,
17487 Greifswald
,
Germany
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Peter Bock
Peter Bock
1
Geowissenschaften, Technische Universität Bergakademie Freiberg
,
09599 Freiberg
,
Germany
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Published:
January 01, 2009

Abstract

New structural, geochronological, and petrological data highlight which crustal sections of the North American–Caribbean Plate boundary in Guatemala and Honduras accommodated the large-scale sinistral offset. We develop the chronological and kinematic framework for these interactions and test for Palaeozoic to Recent geological correlations among the Maya Block, the Chortís Block, and the terranes of southern Mexico and the northern Caribbean. Our principal findings relate to how the North American–Caribbean Plate boundary partitioned deformation; whereas the southern Maya Block and the southern Chortís Block record the Late Cretaceous–Early Cenozoic collision and eastward sinistral translation of the Greater Antilles arc, the northern Chortís Block preserves evidence for northward stepping of the plate boundary with the translation of this block to its present position since the Late Eocene. Collision and translation are recorded in the ophiolite and subduction–accretion complex (North El Tambor complex), the continental margin (Rabinal and Chuacús complexes), and the Laramide foreland fold–thrust belt of the Maya Block as well as the overriding Greater Antilles arc complex. The Las Ovejas complex of the northern Chortís Block contains a significant part of the history of the eastward migration of the Chortís Block; it constitutes the southern part of the arc that facilitated the breakaway of the Chortís Block from the Xolapa complex of southern Mexico. While the Late Cretaceous collision is spectacularly sinistral transpressional, the Eocene–Recent translation of the Chortís Block is by sinistral wrenching with transtensional and transpressional episodes. Our reconstruction of the Late Mesozoic–Cenozoic evolution of the North American–Caribbean Plate boundary identified Proterozoic to Mesozoic connections among the southern Maya Block, the Chortís Block, and the terranes of southern Mexico: (i) in the Early–Middle Palaeozoic, the Acatlán complex of the southern Mexican Mixteca terrane, the Rabinal complex of the southern Maya Block, the Chuacús complex, and the Chortís Block were part of the Taconic–Acadian orogen along the northern margin of South America; (ii) after final amalgamation of Pangaea, an arc developed along its western margin, causing magmatism and regional amphibolite–facies metamorphism in southern Mexico, the Maya Block (including Rabinal complex), the Chuacús complex and the Chortís Block. The separation of North and South America also rifted the Chortís Block from southern Mexico. Rifting ultimately resulted in the formation of the Late Jurassic–Early Cretaceous oceanic crust of the South El Tambor complex; rifting and spreading terminated before the Hauterivian (c. 135 Ma). Remnants of the southwestern Mexican Guerrero complex, which also rifted from southern Mexico, remain in the Chortís Block (Sanarate complex); these complexes share Jurassic metamorphism. The South El Tambor subduction–accretion complex was emplaced onto the Chortís Block probably in the late Early Cretaceous and the Chortís Block collided with southern Mexico. Related arc magmatism and high-T/low-P metamorphism (Taxco–Viejo–Xolapa arc) of the Mixteca terrane spans all of southern Mexico. The Chortís Block shows continuous Early Cretaceous–Recent arc magmatism.

Supplementary material: Analytical methods and data, and sample description are available at http://www.geolsoc.org.uk/SUP18360.

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Contents

Geological Society, London, Special Publications

The Origin and Evolution of the Caribbean Plate

K. H. James
K. H. James
Aberystwyth University, Wales, UK
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M. A. Lorente
M. A. Lorente
Central University of Venezuela, Venezuela
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J. L. Pindell
J. L. Pindell
Tectonic Analysis Ltd, West Sussex, UK
Rice University, Texas, USA
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Geological Society of London
Volume
328
ISBN electronic:
9781862395763
Publication date:
January 01, 2009

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