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Plate-kinematics and crustal dynamics of circum-Caribbean arc-continent interactions: Tectonic controls on basin development in Proto-Caribbean margins

By
James Pindell
James Pindell
1
Tectonic Analysis, Ltd., Chestnut House, Burton Park, Duncton, West Sussex GU28 0LH, UK
6
Also at Department of Earth Science, MS-126, Rice University, Houston, Texas 77005, USA; jim@tectonicanalysis.com
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Lorcan Kennan
Lorcan Kennan
1
Tectonic Analysis, Ltd., Chestnut House, Burton Park, Duncton, West Sussex GU28 0LH, UK
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Walter V. Maresch
Walter V. Maresch
2
Institut für Geologie, Mineralogie und Geophysik, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, D-44780 Bochum, Germany
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Klaus-Peter Stanek
Klaus-Peter Stanek
3
Institut für Geologie, TU Bergakademie Freiberg, Bernhard-von-Cotta-Strasse 2, D-09596 Freiberg, Germany
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Grenville Draper
Grenville Draper
4
Department of Earth Sciences, Florida International University, Miami, Florida 33199, USA
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Roger Higgs
Roger Higgs
5
Geoclastica Ltd., 16 Norham End, Norham Road, Oxford OX2 6SG, UK
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Published:
January 01, 2005

The American margins of the Caribbean comprise basins and accreted terranes recording a polyphase tectonic history. Plate kinematic models and reconstructions back to the Jurassic show that Mesozoic separation of the Americas produced passive margins that were overridden diachronously from west to east by allochthonous Caribbean plate–related arc and oceanic complexes. P-T-t and structural data, sedimentary provenance, and basin-subsidence studies constrain this history. Caribbean lithosphere is Pacific-derived and was engulfed between the Americas during their westward drift as the Atlantic Ocean opened. This began ca. 120 Ma with development of a west-dipping Benioff zone between Central America and the northern Andes, now marked by the Guatemalan and Cuban sutures in North America and by the northern Colombian and Venezuelan “sutures” of South America, persisting today as the Lesser Antilles subduction zone. Most Caribbean high-pressure metamorphic complexes originated at this subduction zone, which probably formed by arc-polarity reversal at an earlier west-facing Inter-American Arc and was probably caused by westward acceleration of the Americas. The mainly 90 Ma Caribbean basalts were extruded onto preexisting Caribbean crust ∼30 m.y. later and are not causally linked to the reversal. The Great Caribbean Arc originated at this trench and evolved up to the present, acquiring the shape of the preexisting Proto-Caribbean Seaway. The uplift and cooling history of arc and forearc terranes, and history of basin opening and subsidence, can be tied to stages of Caribbean plate motion in a coherent, internally consistent regional model that provides the basis for further studies.

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GSA Special Papers

Caribbean-South American plate interactions, Venezuela

Hans G. Avé Lallemant
Hans G. Avé Lallemant
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Virginia B. Sisson
Virginia B. Sisson
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Geological Society of America
Volume
394
ISBN print:
9780813723945
Publication date:
January 01, 2005

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