2008: Latest Cretaceous collision/accretion between the Caribbean Plate and Caribeana: Origin of metamorphic terranes in the Greater Antilles

Latest Cretaceous collision/accretion between the Caribbean Plate and Caribeana: Origin of metamorphic terranes in the Greater Antilles

Abstract

Metasedimentary complexes dispersed all along the northwestern branch of the Caribbean orogenic belt between Yucatan and the Virgin Islands provide evidence for a major tectonic event of latest Cretaceous (Late Campanian-Early Paleocene) age that played a key role in the evolution of the Caribbean realm. During the northeastward Cretaceous drift of the Caribbean plate from the Pacific, the leading edge of the plate encountered a sedimentary prism that extended southeastward into the Proto-Caribbean realm from the southeastern edge of the Maya Block. Latest Cretaceous subduction of this Mesozoic sedimentary suite, dubbed here "Caribeana," formed metamorphic complexes (i.e., East Yucatán, Cangre, Pinos, Escambray, Guayabal, Asunción, Samaná, and Puerto Rico Trench terranes). This latest Cretaceous subduction/accretion event triggered the interruption or attenuation of the activity of the Cretaceous volcanic arc and the tectonic emplacement of ophiolites and subduction channel complexes along the leading edge of the Caribbean plate. Flat subduction of the Proto-Caribbean ensued during the Maastrichtian-Eocene in the western segment of the leading edge of the Caribbean plate, whereas normal-angle subduction and volcanic arc magmatism continued during the same time span in the eastern segment. The metamorphic complexes evolved differently since the Maastrichtian. As a consequence of the development of the Yucatan Basin in the western part of the orogenic belt, the Pinos, Escambray, and probably the Guayabal terranes were exhumed in an intra-arc environment, whereas the East Yucatan(?), Cangre, Asunción, Samaná, and Puerto Rico Trench terranes were exhumed in a fore-arc setting.

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To Cite this article: García-Casco, A., Iturralde-Vinent, M.A., Pindell, J. (2008): Latest Cretaceous collision/accretion between the Caribbean Plate and Caribeana: Origin of metamorphic terranes in the Greater Antilles. International Geology Review,50, 781-809.

DOI: 10.2747/0020-6814.50.9.781

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