Continental arc systems often show evidence of large-scale migration both toward and away from the incoming plate. In oceanic arc systems, however, while slab roll-back and the associated processes of backarc spreading and arc migration toward the incoming plate are commonplace, arc migration away from the incoming plate is rarely observed. We present a new compilation of marine magnetic anomaly and seismic data in order to propose a new tectonic model for the eastern Caribbean region that includes arc migration in both directions. We synthesized new evidence to show two phases of backarc spreading and eastward arc migration toward the incoming Atlantic. A third and final phase of arc migration to the west subdivided the earlier backarc basin on either side of the present-day Lesser Antilles arc. This is the first example of regional multidirectional arc migration in an intra-oceanic setting, and it has implications for along-arc structural and geochemical variations. The back and forth arc migrations were probably due to the constraints imposed by the neighboring American plates on this isolated subduction system, rather than variations in subducting slab buoyancy.
The role of arc migration in the development of the Lesser Antilles: A new tectonic model for the Cenozoic evolution of the eastern Caribbean
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R.W. Allen, J.S. Collier, A.G. Stewart, T. Henstock, S. Goes, A. Rietbrock, the VoiLA Team; The role of arc migration in the development of the Lesser Antilles: A new tectonic model for the Cenozoic evolution of the eastern Caribbean. Geology doi: https://doi.org/10.1130/G46708.1
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