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Title Plate-kinematics and crustal dynamics of circum-Caribbean arccontinent interactions: Tectonic controls on basin development in Proto-Caribbean margins
Authors James Pindell, Lorcan Kennan, Walter Maresch, Klaus Stanek, Grenville Draper & Roger Higgs
Source Ave-Lallemant & Sisson (eds), 2005, Geological Society of America Special Paper 394, 7-52
Abstract The American margins of the Caribbean comprise basins and accreted terranes recording a polyphase tectonic history. Plate kinematic models and reconstructions back to the Jurassic show that Mesozoic separation of the Americas produced passive margins that were overridden diachronously from west to east by allochthonous Caribbean plate­related arc and oceanic complexes. P-T-t and structural data, sedimentary provenance, and basin-subsidence studies constrain this history. Caribbean lithosphere is Pacific-derived and was engulfed between the Americas during their westward drift as the Atlantic Ocean opened. This began ca. 120 Ma with development of a west-dipping Benioff zone between Central America and the northern Andes, now marked by the Guatemalan and Cuban sutures in North America and by the northern Colombian and Venezuelan sutures of South America, persisting today as the Lesser Antilles subduction zone. Most Caribbean high-pressure metamorphic complexes originated at this subduction zone, which probably formed by arc-polarity reversal at an earlier west-facing Inter-American Arc and was probably caused by westward acceleration of the Americas. The mainly 90 Ma Caribbean basalts were extruded onto preexisting Caribbean crust ~30 m.y. later and are not causally linked to the reversal. The Great Caribbean Arc originated at this trench and evolved up to the present, acquiring the shape of the preexisting Proto- Caribbean Seaway. The uplift and cooling history of arc and forearc terranes, and history of basin opening and subsidence, can be tied to stages of Caribbean plate motion in a coherent, internally-consistent regional model that provides the basis for further studies.
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