Abstract

The Early Cretaceous northeast Brazilian Sergipe microplate, formed at the northern end of the South Atlantic rift between South America and Africa, closely resembles the modern Sinai microplate at the northern end of the Red Sea in size, shape, and relative motion. Both formed where east-northeast–trending transverse shear zones arrested northward rift propagation, causing the Tucano-Recôncavo and Gulf of Suez rifts to fail and be replaced by northeast-trending leaky transforms (Sergipe-Alagoas and Dead Sea transforms) as the new paths of continental breakup. Bordered by the failed rift, the leaky transform, and the transverse shear zone, both microplates were rotated counterclockwise by drag along their eastern transform margins. Rotation thrust the edge of the Sergipe microplate over part of its northern border, creating the Arcoverde thrust wedge. The northwest-trending Vaza-Barris fault sheared the microplate, transferring the rift and evaporite sequence from the Sergipe-Alagoas to the Gabon continental margin. In Albian time, heating of the lithosphere in the Cabo igneous province near Recife permitted the South Atlantic rift to propagate across the Arcoverde thrust wedge, completing continental breakup.

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