Geochemistry and petrology of three granitoid rock cores from the Nicaraguan Rise, Caribbean Sea: implications for its composition, structure and tectonic evolution


  • J.F. LEWIS Department of Earth and Environmental Science, The George Washington University Washington, DC
  • G. KYSAR MATTIETTI Atmospheric, Oceanic and Earth Science Department, The George Mason University Fairfax, VA
  • M. PERFIT Department of Geological Sciences, University of Florida. Gainesville, Florida
  • G. KAMENOV Department of Geological Sciences, University of Florida. Gainesville, Florida


Caribbean, Nicaraguan Rise, Granitoids, Geochemistry, Arc rocks


The Nicaraguan Rise is a major submarine structure of poorly known origin. Its lithologies have been studied from dredge hauls and land outcrops on the Greater Antilles and Central America and its structure from geophysical data. In this paper we present the first geochemical analyses for granitoids that were recovered during the 1970s from cores drilled on the Nicaragua Rise for oil prospecting. The three Nicaraguan Rise rocks are calk-alkaline granitoids, and lie in the high-K field for Caribbean granitoids similar to the Above Rocks, Jamaica and Terre Neuve, Haiti intrusions. All of these intrusions are considered to be of Late Cretaceous – Paleocene age. Key elements abundances - K, La, Ce, Nd, Hf, Zr and Sm - indicate that the three Nicaraguan Rise rocks present more affinity with mature oceanic arc rocks similar to other granitoids from the Greater Antilles rather than mature continental arcs. The Pb, Nd and Sr isotope data show no evidence of a continental component, thus indicating that the more eastern and northern submarine area of the Northern Nicaraguan Rise is not underlain by continental crust of the Chortis block. Although of similar age, the Nicaraguan Rise samples are different from the more depleted Cuban granitoids of the Sierra Maestra, though both show strong similarities in their 207Pb/204Pb composition. We postulate that the Northern Nicaraguan Rise was most likely a Caribbean oceanic arc system that may have interacted only at its margin with the continental blocks bounding the region to the west in the area of the Northern Honduran borderland