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Geodynamic model of the northwestern Caribbean: scaled reconstruction of Late Cretaceous to Late Eocene plate boundary relocation in Cuba

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Reviewing the local geological data of Cuba, its structural relations to Hispaniola and Jamaica as well as a comparison of prevalent plate tectonic models, allow for a refined Late Cretaceous to Miocene tectonic reconstruction. The Cuban orogenic belt records subduction, volcanic arc formation and accretion along the pre-Eocene northwestern leading edge of the Caribbean plate. Geologic evidence points to a two-stage development with change in subduction polarity from a south- and southwest-dipping Cretaceous to a north-dipping Paleocene to Early Eocene subduction zone. During the Late Campanian, the Cretaceous arc collided with the North American continental margin. Ophiolites and parts of the Cretaceous volcanic arc are thrust onto the North American continental margin until the Late Eocene. After the initial Campanian collision, the Caribbean plate continued its relative northward movement. As a consequence, oceanic lithosphere of the back-arc area was emplaced on the top of the southern extension of the inactive arc. During the Danian, a new north-dipping subduction zone was established that consumed oceanic lithosphere of the Caribbean plate until the Middle Eocene. The arrival of thickened oceanic crust of the Caribbean Large Igneous Province stopped the subduction and the relative northward movement of the Caribbean plate. Subsequently, in the Middle Eocene the east-west striking Oriente transform fault system was formed which since then represents the northern boundary of the Caribbean plate.


Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2011-03-01

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