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Title Regional synopsis of Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean evolution
Author James Pindell
Source Transactions of GCSSEPM 13th Annual Research Conference, 251-274
Abstract The main elements of the western Pangean reconstruction and the subsequent regional paleogeographic evolution of the Gulf of Mexico, Mexico, and the Caribbean are outlined in a modern plate kinematic framework which brings the Caribbean Plate from the Pacific since the Aptian. Two primary phases of development occurred. The first, Late Triassic to Aptian, involved the creation of the Proto-Caribbean Seaway and two Cordilleran backarc basins, one in Mexico and one west of Colombia and Ecuador. A west-facing arc stretched and maintained connection from the Chortis Block (SW Mexico) to central Ecuador. The northern margin of South America from northern Ecuador to the Atlantic was a passive margin during Late Jurassic through Cretaceous times. The second phase, mid?-Aptian to present, records the progressive eastward migration of Caribbean crust from the Pacific to its present position. An Aptian arc polarity reversal brought metamorphic rocks to the surface at that time, and marks the onset of relative eastward migration. Since the medial Cretaceous, after the onset of subduction at the Panama-Costa Rica arc, the Caribbean crust has rested in the mantle reference frame, while the American plates have drifted westward at rates similar to their velocities in the mantle reference frame. Campanian-Maestrichtian interactions between the arc and Yucatan (Jamaican-Cuban portion) and northern Ecuador/Colombia (Amaime-Chaucha Terrane portion) are important events during the relative migration. Emplacement of allochthonous terranes around the Proto-Caribbean passive margins was entirely a function of Caribbean-American relative movements, and is recorded by foredeep sedimentation and subsidence of the various passive margin sections.
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