Foundations of Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean evolution: eight controversies resolved
Keywords:Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean, Tectonic evolution, Proto-Caribbean, Pacific origin.
AbstractEight points of recurring controversy regarding the primary foundations of models of Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean tectonic evolution are identified and examined. The eight points are controversial mainly because of the disconnect between different scales of thinking by different workers, a common but unfortunate problem in the geological profession. Large-scale thinkers often are unaware of local geological detail, and local-scale workers fail to appreciate the level of evolutionary precision and constraint provided by regional tectonics and plate kinematics. The eight controversies are: (1) the degree of freedom in the Gulf-Caribbean kinematic framework that is allowed by Atlantic opening parameters; (2) the existence of a South Bahamas-Guyana Transform, and the role of this structure in Cuban, Bahamian, Trinidadian, and Guyanese evolution; (3) the anticlockwise rotation of the Yucatán Block during the opening of the Gulf of Mexico; (4) the Pacific origin of the Caribbean oceanic crust; (5) the Aptian age and plate boundary geometry of the onset of west-dipping subduction of Proto-Caribbean beneath Caribbean lithospheres; (6) the origin and causal mechanism of the Caribbean Large Igneous Province…not Galapagos!; (7) the number and origin of magmatic arcs in the northern Caribbean; and (8) the origin of Paleogene “flysch” deposits along northern South America: the Proto-Caribbean subduction zone. Here we show that there are viable marriages between the larger and finer scale data sets that define working and testable elements of the region’s evolution. In our opinion, these marriages are geologically accurate and suggest that they should form discrete elements that can and be integrated into regional models of Gulf and Caribbean evolution. We also call upon different facets of the geological community to collaborate and integrate diverse data sets more openly, in the hopes of improving general understanding and limiting the publication of unnecessary papers which only serve to spread geological uncertainty.
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