Abstract

New geodynamical data from West Africa bring consistent informations on the pre-Mesozoic reconstruction within a large area running from the western Sahara to the Colombian cordillera. These new data support a Neoproterozoic Ocean (WANO) between the Amazonian (AMC) and West African (WAC) cratons previously to the Iapetus and Rheic oceans. We delineate 31 blocs detached from the surrounding three continents: NAC (North American Craton), AMC and WAC. 7 came from the WAC margin, 7 from the NAC, 6 from the AMC and 11 from an intermediate volcano sedimentary domain (COB) built on a 1200–1000 Ma oceanic crust. These imbricated blocks formed a tight mosaic by the Hercynian/Alleghanian tectonic event which gave way to the Pangea super-continent. But, during the Atlantic Ocean opening these blocks began to move. They were separated by new oceanic basins. However, previously to the Pangea, blocks from the COB domain formed two sets of garlands located on the northwestern Gondwana margin. The northern one moved to the North until the Silurian to collide the NAC (Taconic tectonic event) meanwhile the southern one remains on the Gondwana margin. All together were gathered by the Carboniferous/Permian time. Then, the framework for the opening of the Atlantic Ocean was not totally disconnected from the “Variscan” collage and many variscan weakness zones were re-used as initial breaking zones. Beyond this tectonic impact, the pre-mesozoic assemblage allows us to compare this “Caribbean” island arc with another one: the Indonesian “Banda” arc. Thus, West Africa is a geological key area for correlations between the Caribbean, the Appalachian, the Brazilian “Nordeste” and the West European domains and for the understanding of the Atlantic Ocean opening process.

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