We have combined previous data from Mesozoic-Cenozoic outcrops in the Guajira Peninsula of northern Colombia with regional gravity, bathymetric, and seismic interpretations to demonstrate the existence of a 280 km long western extension of the Great Arc of the Caribbean (GAC) along the continental margin of Colombia. Seismic data reveal an 80–100 km wide domal-shaped basement high that exhibits internal chaotic seismic facies. This elongate and domal-shaped structure extends 1800 km from the Aves Ridge in the Caribbean Sea to the study area in offshore Colombia. The western extension of the GAC in Colombia and western Venezuela is buried by 700–3000 m of continental margin sedimentary rocks as a result of the GAC colliding earlier with the Colombian margin (Cretaceous-early Paleogene collision) than its subaerially exposed eastern extension along the Leeward Antilles ridge (late Paleogene-Neogene). Our compilation of geologic information from the entire GAC reveals that GAC magmatism occurred from 128 to 74 Ma with magmatism ages progressively younger toward the east. Six upper Eocene to recent marine seismic sequences overlying the domal basement high of the GAC have been mapped by our analysis of 2400 km of seismic lines and 12 well logs. Based on subsurface mapping correlated with well-log information and onland geology in the Guajira Peninsula, these six sequences record four major deformational events: (1) late Eocene rifting in an east–west direction produced half-grabens in the northern part of the area, (2) Oligocene transtension in the southern part of the area expressed by right-lateral Oligocene strike-slip faulting and extensional basin formation, (3) early-middle Miocene transtension, and (4) late Miocene-early Pliocene Andean uplift accompanied by rapid erosion and clastic infilling of offshore basins by the Magdalena delta and deep-sea fan. The significance of this basin framework is discussed for known and inferred hydrocarbon systems.

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