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Florida: A Jurassic transform plate boundary

January 1, 1984

Magnetic, gravity, seismic, and deep drill hole data integrated with plate tectonic reconstructions substantiate the existence of a transform plate boundary across southern Florida during the Jurassic. On the basis of this integrated suite of data the pre-Cretaceous Florida-Bahamas region can be divided into the pre-Jurassic North American plate, Jurassic marginal rift basins, and a broad Jurassic transform zone including stranded blocks of pre-Mesozoic continental crust. Major tectonic units include the Suwannee basin in northern Florida containing Paleozoic sedimentary rocks, a central Florida basement complex of Paleozoic age crystalline rock, the west Florida platform composed of stranded blocks of continental crust, the south Georgia rift containing Triassic sedimentary rocks which overlie block-faulted Suwannee basin sedimentary rocks, the Late Triassic-Jurassic age Apalachicola rift basin, and the Jurassic age south Florida, Bahamas, and Blake Plateau marginal rift basins. The major tectonic units are bounded by basement hinge zones and fracture zones (FZ). The basement hinge zone represents the block-faulted edge of the North American plate, separating Paleozoic and older crustal rocks from Jurassic rifted crust beneath the marginal basins. Fracture zones separate Mesozoic marginal sedimentary basins and include the Blake Spur FZ, Jacksonville FZ, Bahamas FZ, and Cuba FZ, bounding the Blake Plateau, Bahamas, south Florida, and southeastern Gulf of Mexico basins. The Bahamas FZ is the most important of all these features because its northwest extension coincides with the Gulf basin marginal fault zone, forming the southern edge of the North American plate during the Jurassic. The limited space between the North American and the South American/African plates requires that the Jurassic transform zone, connecting the Central Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico spreading systems, was located between the Bahamas and Cuba FZ's in the region of southern Florida. Our plate reconstructions combined with chronostratigraphic and lithostratigraphic information for the Gulf of Mexico, southern Florida, and the Bahamas indicate that the gulf was sealed off from the Atlantic waters until Callovian time by an elevated Florida-Bahamas region. Restricted influx of waters started in Callovian as a plate reorganization, and increased plate separation between North America and South America/Africa produced waterways into the Gulf of Mexico from the Pacific and possibly from the Atlantic.

Publication Year 1984
Title Florida: A Jurassic transform plate boundary
DOI 10.1029/JB089iB09p07753
Authors Kim D. Klitgord, Peter Popenoe, Hans Schouten
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Journal of Geophysical Research B: Solid Earth
Index ID 70195015
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center