Bimodal volcanism in northeast Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands (Greater Antilles Island Arc): Genetic links with Cretaceous subduction of the mid-Atlantic ridge Caribbean spur

Jolly, Wayne T., Edward G. Lidiak, and Alan P. Dickin. 2008. Bimodal volcanism in northeast puerto rico and the virgin islands (greater antilles island arc): Genetic links with cretaceous subduction of the mid-atlantic ridge caribbean spur. Lithos 103 (3-4) (JUL): 393-414.

Bimodal extrusive volcanic rocks in the northeast Greater Antilles Arc consist of two interlayered suites, including (1) a predominantly basaltic suite, dominated by island arc basalts with small proportions of andesite, and (2) a silicic suite, similar in composition to small volume intrusive veins of oceanic plagiogranite commonly recognized in oceanic crustal sequences. The basaltic suite is geochemically characterized by variable enrichment in the more incompatible elements and negative chondritenormalized HFSE anomalies. Trace element melting and mixing models indicate the magnitude of the subducted sediment component in Antilles arc basalts is highly variable and decreases dramatically from east to west along the arc. In the Virgin Islands, the sediment component ranges betweenb0.5 to ∼1% in Albian rocks, and between ∼1 and 2% in succeeding Cenomanian to Campanian strata. In comparison, sediment proportions in central Puerto Rico range between 0.5 to 1.5% in the Albian to 2 toN4% during the Cenomanian-Campanian interval. The silicic suite, consisting predominantly of rhyolites, is characterized by depleted Al2O3 (averageb16%), low Mg-number (molar Mg/Mg+Feb0.5), TiO2 (b1.0%), and Sr/Y (b10), oceanic or arc-like Sr, Nd, and Pb isotope signatures, and by the presence of plagioclase. All of these features are consistent with an anatexic origin in gabbroic sources, of both oceanic and arc-related origin, within the sub-arc basement. The abundance of silicic lavas varies widely along the length of the arc platform. In the Virgin Islands on the east, rhyolites comprise up to 80% of Lower Albian strata (112 to 105 Ma), and about 20% in post-Albian strata (105 to 100 Ma). Farther west, in Puerto Rico, more limited proportions (b20%) of silicic lavas were erupted. The systematic variation of both sediment flux and abundance of crustally derived silicic lavas are consistent with current tectonic models of Caribbean evolution involving approximately perpendicular subduction of the Caribbean spur of the mid-Atlantic Ridge, which was located approximately midway between North and South America until Campanian times. Within this hypothetical setting the centrally positioned Virgin Islands terrain remained approximately fixed above the subducting ridge as the Antilles arc platform swept northeastward into the slot between the Americas. Accordingly, heat flow in the Virgin Islands was elevated throughout the Cretaceous, giving rise to widespread crustal melting, whereas the subducted sediment flux was limited. Conversely, toward the west in central Puerto Rico, which wasconsistently more remote from the subducting ridge, heat flow was relatively low and produced limited crustal melting, while the sediment flux was comparatively elevated.