The Caribbean region contains four island arcs. The Greater Antilles, on the north, and Venezuelan Antilles, on the south, underwent volcanism from early Cretaceous to Eocene time and the Lesser Antilles and Central America, on the eastern and western sides of the region, respectively, began major arc volcanism largely in early Cenozoic time and are still active. These areas expose three different levels in the metallogenic evolution of island arcs. The most mature arc, metallogenically, is northern Central America, which is underlain by pre-Mesozoic cratonic rocks and contains widespread precious- and base-metal vein mineralization associated with terrestrial silicic volcanic rocks, and smaller deposits of tungsten, antimony and mercury. Next in order of metallogenic maturity is southern Central America, where porphyry copper mineralization is abundant. Precious- and base-metal veins in silicic volcanic rocks are moderately well developed here and tungsten-antimony-mercury mineralization is lacking. Least metallogenically mature of the arcs are the Greater, Lesser and Venezuelan Antilles in which both silicic volcanic-associated vein mineralization and tungsten-antimony-mercury mineralization are lacking and porphyry copper and massive sulphide mineralization are widespread.

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