Emplacement of Cuban Ophiolites

J. L. Colibiella-Reguera


According to their lithological and structural characteristics, three ophiolite bearing structural units are recognized in Cuba: 1) The Northern Ophiolitic Belt, a complex mélange that stretches more than 1000 km along the island; 2) The metamorphic basement of the Cretaceous Volcanic Arc Terrane; and 3) The tectonic slices in the high pressure metamorphic Escambray (Guamuhaya) Massif of south central Cuba. The available age constrains indicate that relics of oceanic lithosphere in Cuba are Late Mesozoic in age and probably originated in two different tectonic environments; 1) in a Late Jurassic- Neocomian small oceanic basin resulting from drifting between North America and a southern continent; and 2) in a suprasubduction marginal basin developed between the North American passive margin and an Aptian-Albian volcanic arc. Serpentinite slices and the high pressure amphibolites in the Mesozoic metasedimentary rocks of the Escambray (Guamuhaya) Massif originated during closure of a small oceanic basin, possibly during the Albian. The basement metamorphic rocks of the Volcanic Arc Terrane were derived from Upper Jurassic- Neocomian oceanic crust, metamorphosed during the development on this crust of a Middle Cretaceous volcanic arc. Ophiolites of the northern belt were probably derived from both the formerly mentioned small oceanic basin and suprasubduction marginal basin, and were emplaced in several episodes from the Campanian to the Middle Eocene. The different ophiolite types in Cuba represent relics of the oceanic lithosphere (the Proto-Caribbean oceanic basin) that developed between North and South America after the Pangea breakup. An alternative plate tectonic model is proposed and discussed.


Ophiolites; Cuba; Proto-Caribbean; Oceanic lithosphere.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.1344/105.000001396


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