Abstract

The Santaren Anticline constitutes the frontal termination of the Cuban fold and thrust belt within the Bahamian foreland. New well and seismic data allow us to constrain in detail the evolution of this anticline. Pre-growth and syntectonic (partly post-tectonic?) units, separated by a major unconformity, are associated with the Santaren Anticline. Their geometrical features are consistent with a detachment fold. The precise age of the beginning of fold growth remains unknown. However, the complete record of well-dated syntectonic sediments documents its kinematic evolution from Mid-Eocene to Pliocene/present day, and reveals an approximately constant and very slow growth rate from Early Miocene to Pliocene/present day. The timing of evolution of the Santaren Anticline is not consistent with previous models that postulate that deformation associated with the Cuban fold and thrust belt ended in the Eocene. Our data suggest that the most external part of the Cuban fold and thrust belt was still being deformed under a compressional regime during the late Palaeogene, Neogene and probably during the Quaternary. We propose that this folding may result from compressive stresses transmitted approximately 400 km northwards from the actual plate boundary, as a result of slow convergence between the N and S American plates.

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