Abstract

The geology of Puerto Rico is divided into three regions: the north, central and SW igneous provinces. Characterized by its Jurassic ophiolitic mélange basement, lithology of the SW Igneous Province (SIP) is not related to either of the other two provinces. The ophiolitic mélange is exposed in three peridotite belts: Monte del Estado, Rio Guanajibo and Sierra Bermeja. We present geochemical data to identify the tectonic setting of the SIP peridotite formation and its relation to the evolution of the Caribbean Plate. Comparisons of spinel Cr no. (13–21), Mg no. (63.3–69.6) and TiO2 suggest an abyssal peridotite origin; however, only Sierra Bermeja presents high TiO2 characteristics of a mid-ocean-ridge-basalt- (MORB-) like melt reaction. Temperatures determined with two-pyroxene geothermometers indicated a cold thermal regime of c. 800–1050°C, with characteristics of large-offset transform fault abyssal peridotites. The geochemistry and Sr–Nd–Hf–Pb isotopic compositions of basalts within the mélange were also analysed. Las Palmas amphibolites exhibited normal-MORB-like rare earth element (REE) and trace-element patterns, whereas metabasalts and Lower Cajul basalts exhibited island-arc tholeiitic-like patterns. Highly radiogenic Sr isotopes (0.70339–0.70562) of the basalts suggest seawater alteration; however, Pb–Pb and Nd–Hf isotope correlations represent the primary compositions of a Pacific/Atlantic MORB source for the amphibolites, metabasalts and Lower Cajul basalts. We propose that the SIP ophiolitic mélange was formed along a large-offset transform fault, which initiated subduction and preserved both proto-Pacific and proto-Caribbean lithospheric mantle. Younger Upper Cajul basalts exhibited enriched-MORB-like geochemical and isotopic signatures, which can be attributed to a tectonized Caribbean ocean plateau.

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