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The Cuban staircase sequences of coral reef and marine terraces: A forgotten masterpiece of the Caribbean geodynamical puzzle

Abstract : The emerged sequences of coral reef and marine terraces of the Cuban Archipelago have been recognized since the end of the 19th century but with noticeable exceptions, their bio-constructions and/or deposits are not dated. The northern Caribbean islands and associated archipelagos are located in a left-lateral strike-slip tectonic setting, at the boundary between the North America and Caribbean plates. Cuba is the only landmass located on the American Plate directly adjacent to this transform fault zone. Quantifying upper Pleistocene coastal uplift is thus key to elucidate the recent vertical deformation of the Caribbean geodynamic puzzle with regards to the active tectonic segmentation of this area. We compiled bibliographic data and present new measurements concerning the Cuban sequences of coral reef and marine terraces; maximum elevations, minimum number of successive strandlines and elevation of the lowermost terrace. The Cuban Archipelago exhibits five main uplifting coastal stretches separated by subsiding areas, with at least 23 emerged staircase sequences of coastal terraces. At four sites, the lowest coral reef terrace has been previously correlated to the Last Interglacial Maximum (MIS 5e, 122 ± 6 ka). At nine sites, we extended the morpho-stratigraphy to derive Upper Pleistocene apparent and eustasy-corrected uplift rates. Alongshore Cuba, MIS 5e coastal terraces and associated shoreline angles occur at elevations ranging from 7 m to 40 m, yielding eustasy-corrected uplift rates ranging from 0.06 ± 0.01 mm.yr−1 (NW Cuba) to 0.33 ± 0.01 mm.yr−1 (SE Cuba). More than 400 km northward of the transform fault, eustasy-corrected uplift rates (0.13 mm.yr−1) suggest that the whole Cuban Archipelago is affected by the North America/Caribbean plate motion, with a partitioned compressive component resulting in block tectonics with tilting controlled by regional faults.
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Submitted on : Wednesday, March 2, 2022 - 3:12:30 PM
Last modification on : Wednesday, October 26, 2022 - 3:24:23 AM


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Leandro Peñalver, Kevin Pedoja, Denyse Martin-Izquierdo, Christine Authemayou, Arelis Nuñez, et al.. The Cuban staircase sequences of coral reef and marine terraces: A forgotten masterpiece of the Caribbean geodynamical puzzle. Marine Geology, 2021, 440, pp.106575. ⟨10.1016/j.margeo.2021.106575⟩. ⟨hal-03341917v2⟩



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