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Abstract

Definition of the opening histories of most of the world’s oceans continues to improve. Some improvements concern the drift (sea-floor spreading) history and stem from better resolution of oceanic fracture zones and magnetic anomalies, whereas other improvements concern the rift history and implications for initial conjugate continental reconstructions as provided by new or improved seismic data collected at continental margins. This work addresses two issues. First, it identifies several aspects of Atlantic opening history that affect the early opening kinematic framework between North and South America, showing that (1) the Yucatan Block must have rotated during the Jurassic evolution of the Gulf of Mexico, and (2) that the older elements of the Caribbean plate must be of Pacific origin. Second, it highlights the predictions made for slab subduction beneath northern South America as a result of Atlantic plate kinematic history and the Pacific origin model for Caribbean evolution. It is seen that there is good correlation between these predictions based on plate kinematics and the observed existence of subducted slabs beneath northern South America via passive seismology and mantle tomography.

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