Preliminary Tectonic Reconstructions of the Gulf of Mexico and Northern Caribbean Region (Paleoceanographic Mapping Project Report No. 11-0586)
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The evolution of the Caribbean region has been complex. Due to this complexity, existing models are controversial. The most efficient and accurate way to test these models is to break them into their component parts. We have started to do that by looking in detail at the Gulf of Mexico and the northern Caribbean plate boundary (Cayman Trough). Preliminary results indictate that the Gulf of Mexico opened in two phases, east-west strike slip (175 mya to ~168 mya), then north-south extension (168 mya to ~152 mya). A new interpretation of magnetic anomalies in the Cayman Trough indicates that spreading there has been going on since the early Eocene, it has been asymmetric, and has undergone ridge jumps and rates changes due to changes in motions of the surrounding major plates.