2009: Structure of the accretionary prism, and the evolution of the Paleogene northern Caribbean subduction zone in the region of Camagüey, Cuba

Structure of the accretionary prism, and the evolution of the Paleogene northern Caribbean subduction zone in the region of Camagüey, Cuba

Abstract

The deformation history of sedimentary units incorporated in the North Cuban fold and thrust belt in the Paleocene to middle–late Eocene was associated with major shortening between the Caribbean and North American plates. This led to the formation of an intensely deformed tectonic pile comprising from top to bottom of a volcanic arc nappe, a deformed mafic–ultramafic complex with Mesozoic ophiolite components and a serpentinitic mélange with blocks of sedimentary (the Placetas belt) and metamorphic rocks; and the structurally lower unit composed of folded and thrusted sediments of the southern promontory of the Bahamas platform. In this paper we study the deformation history of sedimentary units incorporated in the North Cuban fold and thrust belt associated with this shortening history. We find that the occurrences of the Placetas sedimentary rocks within the foliated serpentinite mélange show varying styles and intensity of deformation, and varying number of deformation phases. They form isolated blocks within the serpentinite mélange and do not represent a coherent nappe underlying the allochtonous mafic–ultramafic complex. The deformation of the Remedios belt, part of the Bahamas platform, underwent a single phase of folding and thrusting, with shortening perpendicular to the plate contact. This folding occurred in the middle to late Eocene and marks the arrest of subduction and arc–continent collision. We find no evidence for a component of strike-slip during collision. The volcanic arc is thrusted upon the mafic–ultramafic complex, and the original forearc ophiolite appears to be shortened. This shortening may attest to a period of subduction erosion. Thrusting of the volcanic arc led to deposition of the Paleocene-lower Eocene Taguasco olistostrome which may date this event. We show that careful analysis of the complexly deformed Cuban fold and thrust belt may allow identification of subduction erosion and subduction accretion episodes. Expanding the analysis carried out in this paper to the scale of the northern Caribbean fold and thrust belt may provide a new and independent geological tool to constrain the geodynamic processes associated with subduction and arc–continent collision along the northern Caribbean margin.

Keywords: Subduction accretion; Subduction erosion; Arc–continent collision; Structural geology; Caribbean; Serpentinite melange

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To Cite this article: Van Hinsbergen, D.J.J., Iturralde-Vinent, M.A., Van Geffen, P.W., García-Casco, A., Van Benthem, S. (2009): Structure of the accretionary prism, and the evolution of the Paleogene northern Caribbean subduction zone in the region of Camagüey, Cuba. Journal of Structural Geology, 31, 1130-1144.

DOI: 10.1016/j.jsg.2009.06.007

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