Abstract

We present SeaMARC II and multichannel seismic data describing deformation at an active restraining-bend complex formed along a left-lateral strike-slip fault in the western Caribbean Sea. The bend complex consists of three distinct strike- slip fault traces that form two right-stepping "sharp restraining bends" or "push-ups" at its western end and form a right-stepping "gentle restraining bend" at its eastern end. Deformation at the sharp restraining bends is characterized by local folding between overlapping strike-slip faults. Deformation at the much larger gentle restraining bend consists of a large anticline adjacent to a gently curving strike-slip fault. A small, active accretionary wedge forms the northern flank of the bend complex. We speculate that the 30-km-wide, right-stepping bend complex formed as a consequence of southward propagation of the Mid-Cayman spreading center during Oligocene to early Miocene time. Active faults along the southern edge of the bend complex may have formed after the initial uplift and folding of the complex, and may currently serve to straighten the strike-slip fault by "bypassing" the bend complex.

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