Review of Caribbean neotectonics
Studies of active plate boundaries have shown that geodetic and earthquake records from historic periods are insufficient for completely understanding fault behavior and regional patterns of crustal movements. Several pioneering studies have demonstrated that geologic studies of the Holocene and late Pleistocene epochs (Sieh, 1981) can provide valuable information on crustal processes, such as seismogenic fault slip and aseismic uplift, which often exhibit long-term temporal and spatial variations. Realization of the importance of the longer, more extensive geologic record of crustal movements has led to many recent advances in neotectonics, a multidisciplinary field emphasizing the relationship between Neogene relative plate motions and structural, sedimentary, volcanic, and earthquake processes.
We have previously defined the time span of the "neotectonic" phase of Caribbean development as Neogene (Mann and Burke, 1984a). The selection of the Miocene for the beginning of the period during which neotectonic structures form is consistent with most Caribbean tectonic models that show the approximate configuration of present-day plate boundaries established by the Miocene (see Pindell and Barrett, this volume).
Our purpose is to review the neotectonics of the Caribbean Plate with particular emphasis on recent results from geologic studies of major strike-slip fault systems along the northern and southern edges of the plate and subaerial fault systems within arc systems at the eastern and western edges of the plate. Caribbean tectonic studies have traditionally focused on either earthquakes (e.g., Molnar and Sykes, 1969; Sykes and others, 1982) or mapping Paleogene and Cretaceous rocks (e.g., volume edited by Donnelly, 1971).
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The result of a major international effort involving authors and organizations from 13 countries, this volume summarizes the complex geology and tectonic evolution of the Caribbean plate and its relation to the adjacent North American, South American, Nazca, and Cocos plates. Focuses on regional geology and geophysics, magmatic processes, neotectonic features, geologic hazards, and energy and metallic resources. Contrasting views for the Mesozoic and Cenozoic geological evolution are presented in chapters on plate tectonics and mantle surge tectonics. Chapters on marine geology and geophysics are new syntheses for the entire Caribbean region. Highlights of the volume include extensive bibliographies and new syntheses of stratigraphic-lithologic columnar sections, seismicity, gravity and magnetic anomalies, neotectonic features, resource data, and crustal properties.