Rapid exhumation of Cretaceous arc-rocks along the Blue Mountains restraining bend of the Enriquillo-Plantain Garden fault, Jamaica, using thermochronometry from multiple closure systems

Tectonophysics
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Abstract

The effect of rapid erosion on kinematic partitioning along transpressional plate margins is not well understood, particularly in highly erosive climates. The Blue Mountains restraining bend (BMRB) of eastern Jamaica, bound to the south by the left-lateral Enriquillo-Plantain Garden fault (EPGF), offers an opportunity to test the effects of highly erosive climatic conditions on a 30-km-wide restraining bend system. No previous thermochronometric data exists in Jamaica to describe the spatial or temporal pattern of rock uplift and how oblique (> 20°) plate motion is partitioned into vertical strain. To define the exhumation history, we measured apatite (n = 10) and zircon (n = 6) (U-Th)/He ages, 40Ar/39Ar (n = 2; amphibole and K-spar) ages, and U/Pb zircon (n = 2) crystallization ages. Late Cretaceous U/Pb and 40Ar/39Ar ages (74–68 Ma) indicate rapid cooling following shallow emplacement of plutons during north-south subduction along the Great Caribbean Arc. Early to middle Miocene zircon helium ages (19–14 Ma) along a vertical transect suggest exhumation and island emergence at ~ 0.2 mm/yr. Older zircon ages 10–15 km to the north (44–35 Ma) imply less rock uplift. Apatite helium ages are young (6–1 Ma) across the entire orogen, suggesting rapid exhumation of the BMRB since the late Miocene. These constraints are consistent with previous reports of restraining bend formation and early emergence of eastern Jamaica. An age-elevation relationship from a vertical transect implies an exhumation rate of 0.8 mm/yr, while calculated closure depths and thermal modeling suggests exhumation as rapid as 2 mm/yr. The rapid rock uplift rates in Jamaica are comparable to the most intense transpressive zones worldwide, despite the relatively slow (5–7 mm/yr) strike-slip rate. We hypothesize highly erosive conditions in Jamaica enable a higher fraction of plate motion to be accommodated by vertical deformation. Thus, strike-slip restraining bends may evolve differently depending on erosivity and local climate.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Rapid exhumation of Cretaceous arc-rocks along the Blue Mountains restraining bend of the Enriquillo-Plantain Garden fault, Jamaica, using thermochronometry from multiple closure systems
Series title Tectonophysics
DOI 10.1016/j.tecto.2017.09.021
Volume 721
Year Published 2017
Language English
Publisher Elsevier
Contributing office(s) Eastern Geology and Paleoclimate Science Center
Description 18 p.
First page 292
Last page 309
Country Jamaica