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Preliminary geologic map of the Greater Antilles and the Virgin Islands

January 1, 2019


This geologic map of the Greater Antilles and the Virgin Islands is a compilation of information from the literature, integrated to provide a seamless geologic map of the region. The geology shown on sheet 1 covers Cuba, the island of Hispaniola, which includes Haiti and the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, the Cayman Islands, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. and British Virgin Islands. A second more detailed sheet shows the geology of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. The map units shown here are integrated across the islands of the Greater Antilles and the Virgin Islands.

The Greater Antilles and the Virgin Islands, although they appear to reflect the character of a magmatic arc, actually represent multiple, distinct geologic features. Only in Cuba are there unquestioned Jurassic-age, and perhaps older, rocks present. On the islands of Hispaniola (Haiti and the Dominican Republic) and Puerto Rico, metamorphic assemblages contain rocks that may be of Jurassic age. Ophiolite assemblages that may include rocks of Jurassic age are present in Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Puerto Rico. Metamorphic rocks of Cretaceous age are more widespread, present in Cuba, Hispaniola, and the U.S. and British Virgin Islands. Cretaceous plutonic rocks are present in Cuba and Puerto Rico, as well as in the Dominican Republic (in the Cordillera Central and in the eastern part of the country). Gabbro and trondhjemite of inferred Early Cretaceous age are present in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Cretaceous volcanic rocks are widespread in Cuba, Hispaniola, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands; they are of variable age and do not appear to reflect a single arc system. Cretaceous volcanic rocks are also found in Jamaica, in inliers on the eastern part of the island. Eocene volcanic rocks are prominent in southern Cuba, Haiti, eastern Jamaica, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. Volcanic rocks possibly as young as early Miocene are present in the southern Dominican Republic; the youngest volcanic rocks in the region are the Low Layton Lavas of Jamaica of late Miocene age and alkali basalt of Quaternary age on Hispaniola.

Carbonate rocks are an important component of the sedimentary section in the Greater Antilles, which is as old as Jurassic in Cuba and as young as Holocene in many areas. In Cuba, Early Cretaceous sedimentary rocks tend to be dominantly carbonates; volcanic clasts and debris are not present until the Late Cretaceous in Cuba, as well as in Jamaica and Puerto Rico. In contrast, Early Cretaceous volcaniclastic sedimentary rocks are common in the Virgin Islands. Olistostrome deposits are commonly described in latest Cretaceous and Eocene rocks; in the Paleocene and the early Eocene, these deposits are commonly associated with mélange units. Volcanic debris and tuff are common in sedimentary rocks of Paleocene and Eocene age, typically associated with carbonate rocks. Sedimentary rocks that postdate the Eocene either are dominantly carbonates or are mixed clastic and carbonate rocks in which the clastic component reflects erosion of earlier units, including older carbonate rocks. Rocks that contain lignite, which are only present in Cuba and on Hispaniola, generally are of Miocene age.

Publication Year 2019
Title Preliminary geologic map of the Greater Antilles and the Virgin Islands
DOI 10.3133/ofr20191036
Authors Frederic H. Wilson, Greta Orris, Floyd Gray
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Open-File Report
Series Number 2019-1036
Index ID ofr20191036
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Alaska Science Center