Evolution of Middle America and the in situ Caribbean Plate model

Keith H. James

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


Regional geological data and global analogues suggest Caribbean Plate geology continues that seen along the margin of eastern North America in a more extensional setting, between the diverging Americas. From west to east there are continental masses with Triassic rifts, proximal continental blocks with kilometres-thick Mesozoic carbonates, more distal areas of Palaeozoic horsts flanked by Triassic-Jurassic dipping wedges of sediments, including salt and overlain by Cretaceous basalts, and most distal areas of serpentinized upper mantle. Plate history began along with the Late Triassic formation of the Central Atlantic Magmatic Province and involved Triassic-Jurassic rifting, Jurassic-Early Cenozoic extension and Oligocene-Recent strike-slip. Great extension promoted volcanism, foundering, eastward growth of the plate by backarc spreading and distribution of continental fragments on the plate interior and along its margins. Hydrocarbons probably are present. Caribbean geology has important implications for understanding of oceanic plateaus, intra-oceanic volcanic arcs, the 'andesite problem' and genesis of 'subduction' HP/LT metamorphic rocks. The model can be tested by re-examination of existing samples and seismic data and by deep sea drilling.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jun 2011


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