Geology, age and tectonic evolution of the Sierra Maestra Mountains, southeastern Cuba

Franz Neubauer, Ana-Voica Bojar, Ewald Hejl, Robert Handler, Dora Elisa García Delgado


We summarize the available geological information on the Sierra Maestra Mountains in southeastern Cuba and report new zircon fission track and biotite Ar-Ar ages for this region. Two different and genetically unrelated volcanic arc sequences occur in the Sierra Maestra, one Cretaceous in age (pre-Maastrichtian) and restricted to a few outcrops on the southern coast, and the other Palaeogene in age, forming the main expression of the mountain range. These two sequences are overlain by middle to late Eocene siliciclastic, carbonatic and terrigenous rocks as well as by late Miocene to Quaternary deposits exposed on the southern flank of the mountain range. These rocks are britle deformed and contain extension gashes filled with calcite and karst material. The Palaeogene volcanic arc successions were intruded by calc-alkaline, low- to medium-K tonalites and trondhjemites during the final stages of subduction and subsequent collision of the Caribbean oceanic plate with the North American continental plate. U-Pb SHRIMP single zircon dating of five granitoid plutons yielded 206Pb/238U emplacement ages between 60.5 ± 2.2 and 48.3 ± 0.5 Ma. These granitoids were emplaced at pressures ranging from 1.8 to 3.0 kbar, corresponding to depths of ca. 4.5-8 km. 40Ar/39Ar dating of two biotite concentrates yielded ages of 50 ± 2 and 54 ± 4 Ma, indicating cooling through ca. 300 ºC. Zircon and apatite fission track ages range from 32 ± 3 to 46 ± 4 Ma and 31 ± 10 to 44 ± 13 Ma, respectively, and date cooling through 250 ± 50 ºC and 110 ± 20 ºC. The granitoids are the result of subduction-related magmatism and have geochemical characteristics similar to those of magmas from intra-oceanic island-arcs such as the Izu Bonin-Mariana arc and the New Britain island arc. Major and trace element patterns suggest evolution of these rocks from a single magmatic source. Geochemical features characterize these rocks as typical subduction-related granitoids as found worldwide in intra-oceanic arcs, and they probably formed through fractional crystallization of mantlederived low- to medium-K basalts. Several distinct phases of deformation were recognized in the Sierra Maestra, labelled D1 to D6, which define the transition from collision of the Palaeogene island arc to the formation of the Oriente Transform Wrench Corridor south of Cuba and later movement of the Caribbean plate against the North American plate. The first phase (D1) is related to the intrusion of a set of extensive subparallel, N-trending subvertical basalt-andesite dykes, probably during the early to middle Eocene. Between the late-middle Eocene and early Oligocene (D2), rocks of the Sierra Maestra were deformed by approximately east-west trending folds and north-vergent thrust faults. This deformation (D2) was linked to a shift in the stress regime of the Caribbean plate from mainly NNE-SSW to E-W. This shift in plate motion caused the abandonment of the Nipe-Guacanayabo fault system in the early Oligocene and initiation of a deformation front to the south where the Oriente Transform Wrench corridor is now located. Compressive structures were overprinted by widespread extensional structures (D3), mainly faults with southward-directed normal displacement in the Oligocene to early Miocene. During this period the plate boundary jumped to the Oriente fault. This event was followed by transpressive and transtensive structures (D4–D6) due to further development of the sinistral E-trending Oriente Transform wrench corridor. These structures are consistent with oblique convergence in a wide zone of left-lateral shear along an E-W-oriented transform fault.


Cuba; Calc-alkaline granitoids; Geochronology; Paleostress analysis; Subduction magmatism; Transform fault; Wrench corridor.

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            Facultat de Ciències de la Terra                       Geociències Barcelona                           Institut de Diagnosi Ambiental                    Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona           
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Geologica Acta (ISSN-1695-6133)
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