The basal complex of Puerto Rico consists principally of serpentinite, minor amounts of chert and spilite, and locally small blocks of amphibolite. A detailed structural and metamorphic study of a relatively large block of gneissic amphibolite at Las Palmas reveals that the rock has undergone repeated deformation and regional metamorphism prior to contact metamorphism by intrusive serpentinite.
The first event recorded by the amphibolite is amphibolite facies regional metamorphism. Foliation and some hornblende lineation were formed at this time. An increase in the intensity of regional metamorphism then produced quartzo-feldspathic segregations from the host rock, and was accompanied by small-scale folding and development of several types of lineation oblique (o the early hornblende lineation. The metamorphic intensity then decreased slightly and tectonic movement radically decreased, as nonfoliated but metamorphosed mafic dikes cut the gneissic amphibolite. As the metamorphic grade decreased further, late-stage kink-bands were developed at high angles to the earlier small-scale folding. Later, the amphibolite was intruded by serpen-tinite, causing incipient low-grade contact metamorphism and some calcium metasomatism.
H. H. Hess has maintained that Puerto Rico and other islands in the Greater Antilles rest directly on oceanic crust, and that the intrusive serpentinite is derived from the bottom layer of the crust. In the Las Palmas area, the amphibolite formed prior to intrusion of serpentinite, indicating a complex preserpentinite history. Three interpretations of the gneissic amphibolite are considered. It may represent: (1) metamorphosed gabbroic rocks genetically related to the serpentinite, (2) regionally metamorphosed mafic rocks that are part of the oceanic crust, or (3) older mafic rocks regionally metamorphosed as part of an extensive pre-Late Cretaceous orogeny. The evidence from Las Palmas is not conclusive, but when considered in the regional framework, either of the last two interpretations seems reasonable.