The Quaternary volcanogenic landscape and volcaniclastic sediments of the Netherlands Antilles: markers for an in-active volcanic arc


The Quaternary volcanogenic landscape and the volcanogenic sediments of the Netherlands Antilles (NA) (Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao) reflect the most recent stage of the evolution of the Cretaceous to early Cenozoic Great Arc of the Caribbean Plate. They provide a “geoscientific keyhole” to look at its geodynamic and lithological evolution at different scales. This sedimentological, micropaleontological, geomorphological/geo-morphometrical, litho-chemical and mineralogical approach, holistic in essence and focused as to the target, can also be taken to better understand other volcanic arcs or facies zones, e.g., in Colombia. It allows for a climatic-geomorphological zonation governed by uplift and erosion of the volcanic arc in time and space. The host rock quality of landforms for volcanogenic sediments abundant in heavy minerals (HM) that are known as the most suitable markers for provenance and geodynamics can be arranged in decreasing order of significance as follows: coastal-marine volcaniclastic > fluvial–marine (deltaic) > aeolian-coastal-marine > mass wasting > residual > coastal-marine calcareous. The coastal sediments facing towards the plate margin contain Cr–Fe–Ti–Nb–Th–U–Zr-bearing HM which derived from off-shore ophiolites, Precambrian shelf sediments of the South-American Plate, volcanic–subvolcanic units, and mantle source rocks. The Quaternary hydrography evolved on different erosion levels and exposes different basement lithologies of volcanic and subvolcanic type. The drainage system is controlled by faulting (tecto-variance) and the volcanic lithologies (litho-variance) both of which indicate different phases of tectonic and magmatic activity during arc emplacement. This in-active volcanic arc of the Netherlands Antilles has been shaped during the Cenozoic by the climate change and modern tectonics on a deeper level of erosion than the active volcanic arc of the Lesser Antilles.



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