Tertiary evolution of the northeastern Venezuela offshore


On the northeastern offshore Venezuela, the pre-Tertiary basement consists of a deeply subducted accretionary complex of a Cretaceous island arc system that formed far to the west of its present location. The internal structure of this basement consists of metamorphic nappes that involve passive margin sequences, as well as oceanic (ophiolitic) elements. The Tertiary evolution of the northeastern Venezuela offshore is dominated by Paleogene (Middle Eocene-Oligocene) extension and Neogene transtension, interrupted by Oligocene to Middle Miocene inversions. The Paleogene extension is mainly an arc-normal extension associated with a retreating subduction boundary. It is limited to the La Tortuga and the La Blanquilla Basins and the southeastern Margarita and Caracolito subbasins. All of these basins are farther north of and not directly tied to the El Pilar fault system. On a reconstruction, these Paleogene extensional systems were located to the north of the present day Maracaibo Basin. By early Miocene the leading edge of the now overall transpressional system had migrated to a position to the north of the Ensenada de Barcelona. This relative to South America eastward migration is responsible for the Margarita strike-slip fault and the major inversions that began during the Oligocene and lasted into the Middle Miocene. The Bocono-El Pilar-Casanay-Warm Springs and the La Tortuga-Coche-North Coast fault systems are exclusively Neogene with major transtension occurring during the Late Miocene to Recent and act independently from the earlier Paleogene extensional system. They are responsible for the large Neogene transtensional basins of the area: the Cariaco trough, the Northern Tuy-Cariaco and the Paria sub-basins, and the Gulf of Paria Basin. This latest phase is characterized by strain-partitioning into strike slip faults, a transtensional northern domain and a transpressional southern domain that is responsible for the decollement tectonics and/or inversions of the Serrania del Interior and its associated Monagas foreland structures. Part of the latest (Middle Miocene to Recent) phase is the formation of a large arch that corresponds to the Margarita-Testigos-Grenada zone which perhaps was subject to mild lithospheric compression during the Plio-Pleistocene

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