Middle to upper Eocene fluvial strata in the island of Bonaire contain detrital components that were tracked to Precambrian to Triassic massifs in northern Colombia and Venezuela. These detrital components confirm previous hypothesis suggesting that Bonaire and the Leeward Antilles were attached to South American basement massifs (SABM). These are composed of different fragmented South American blocks (Paraguana, Falcon, Maracaibo, Guajira, Perija, and Santa Marta) representing an Eocene, right-laterally displaced tectonic piercing point along the southern Caribbean plate margin. U-Pb LA-ICP-MS from the metamorphic boulders of the Soebi Blanco Formation in Bonaire yield Grenvillian peaks ages (1000-1200. Ma), while detrital zircons recovered from the sandy matrix of the conglomerates contain populations with peaks of 1000 Ma-1200. Ma, 750-950. Ma, and 200-300. Ma. These populations match with geochronological data reported for the northern South American massifs. Thermochronological results from the metamorphic clasts yield Paleocene-middle Eocene ages (65-50. Ma) that confirm a regional-scale cooling event in this time. These data imply a land connection between the SABM and the Leeward Antilles in late Eocene times, followed by a significant strike slip right-lateral displacement and transtensional basin opening starting in latest Eocene times. The succession of Eocene tectonic events recorded by the Soebi Blanco Formation and adjacent basins is a major tracer of the oblique convergence of the Caribbean plate against the South American margin.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Earth-Surface Processes