Geology of Mosquitia and Tela Basins, Honduras



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



Although the Mosquitia and Tela Basins are two of the better-explored sedimentary basins of Honduras, they are still underexplored compared with other basins in the general region. The Tela Basin is composed of three en echelon, narrow depocenters, resulting from extensional tectonics that initiated in the Oligocene. These depocenters were filled primarily by turbidite sedimentation that exceeds some 4,000 meters in thickness. The Mosquitia Basin is separated from the Tela Basin by a major regional, down-to-the-north, strike-slip fault. More than 75 percent of the basin lies in eastern Honduras, and the rest in Nicaragua. The basin's main depocenter is located near the Honduran-Nicaraguan border and is filled with some 9,000 meters of Upper Cretaceous and Tertiary sediments. Both the structural and stratigraphic framework of these two basins are intimately related to the evolution of the Chortis block as the block moved from its original position attached to southwestern Mexico to its present location as part of the Caribbean plate.

The Mosquitia Basin consists of three tectonic elements—the onshore Mosquitia Basin, the Mosquitia Platform, and the offshore Mosquitia Basin. Paleozoic strata are poorly understood in this region, but investigators have suggested that these rocks were affected by at least three episodes of deformation. The Chortis block was displaced into the present-day Caribbean during the Mesozoic, and displacement was followed by a suturing event as the Maya and Chortis blocks collided. This collision produced a regional compressional event, imparting a northwest structural grain and affecting both the onshore and offshore portions of the basin.


LCSH Subject Headings