Late Cretaceous to Miocene tectonic reconstruction of the northwestern Caribbean

regional analysis of Cuban geology


The Caribbean is a geologically complex region with several different plate boundary interactions. Geodynamic reconstructions of the northwestern Caribbean region have been particularly controversial in terms of the number of arcs, subduction polarity, and timing of collision. This thesis develops a refined tectonic reconstruction for the northwestern Caribbean based on a review of geological data of Cuba and a regional analysis within the northwestern Caribbean context. With regard to plausibility, significant emphasis was put on the degree and qualitiy of visualization. Three crustal sections across key areas in western, central, and eastern Cuba have been constructed in order to conduct an evolutionary interpretation in three dimensions. Western and central Cuba constitute an orogenic belt resulting from the collision of a mid- to Late Cretaceous volcanic arc - the "Great Caribbean Arc" - with the southern paleomargin of North America. The collision process apparently started in the Campanian, but major north- to northeast-directed thrusting processes at the southern Bahamas margin culminated during the Paleocene. A continous southwest-dipping polarity of the "Great Caribbean Arc", at least from the Aptian-Albian, can be infered from (1) its Late Cretaceous approach towards the North American margin, (2) the magnitude of top to the north directed tectonic transport in the Cuba orogenic belt, and (3) the internal structures of the metamorphic fore-arc assemblages and their evolution on the north side of the arc ...
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