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Title Mesozoic passive margin of northern South America
Authors James Pindell & Johan Erikson
Source Salfity, J. A. (ed.), 1994, Cretaceous tectonics in the Andes, Vieweg Publishing, Earth Evolution Sciences, International Monograph Series, 1-60.
Abstract A paleogeographic model is presented for the Mesozoic geological history of northern South America from Colombia to Trinidad, concentrating on the tectonic controls on sedimentation and on the origin of allochthonous terranes and the time at which they were obducted onto the autochthonous margin of northern South America. The effects of latest Cretaceous-Cenozoic tectonic deformation and terrane accretion are assessed and accordingly removed to produce a more accurate palinspastic Cretaceous geometry of autochthonous portions of northern South America. By means of continental reconstruction of this geometry with Yucatan, the Bahamas, and southern North America, the Jurassic rifting history of northern South America is outlined. It is seen that an as-yet unknown Jurassic marine shelf section probably exists beneath northern Maturin Basin/Serrania del Interior/Trinidad which is correlative and probably similar to the western Cuban Jurassic stratigraphic section (initial conjugate rift margin). From the Jurassic rift configuration, the Cretaceous stratigraphic development of the northern South American passive margin is outlined in a framework of accurate relative plate motions, and models are presented for the creation, history, and origins of the allochthonous terranes in the light of Caribbean Plate migration history. Northeastern Venezuela's passive margin sedimentary section is analysed and reveals a stable, two phase history of shallow marine, mixed siliciclastic and carbonate accumulation in the Early Cretaceous and dominantly pelagic limestone and shale deposition in the Late Cretaceous; this stable history reflects the continuation of passive margin conditions through the Cretaceous, in contrast to the tectonically active western part of the margin in Late Cretaceous time. Finally, a brief description of Cenozoic Caribbean-South American plate interaction shows how and when the allochthons were finally emplaced upon the margin of Venezuela and Trinidad.
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