Geological Society of London
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Late Cretaceous to Miocene seamount accretion and mélange formation in the Osa and Burica Peninsulas (Southern Costa Rica): episodic growth of a convergent margin

posted on 2016-06-21, 12:17 authored by David Marc Buchs, Peter Oliver Baumgartner, Claudia Baumgartner-Mora, Alexandre Nicolas Bandini, Sarah-Jane Jackett, Marc-Olivier Diserens, Jérôme Stucki

Multidisciplinary study of the Osa and Burica peninsulas, Costa Rica, recognizes the Osa Igneous Complex and the Osa Mélange – records of a complex Late Cretaceous–Miocene tectonic–sedimentary history. The Igneous Complex, an accretionary prism (sensu stricto) comprises mainly basaltic lava flows, with minor sills, gabbroic intrusives, pelagic limestones and radiolarites. Sediments or igneous rocks derived from the upper plate are absent. Four units delimited on the base of stratigraphy and geochemistry lie in contact along reactivated palaeo-décollement zones. They comprise fragments of a Coniacian–Santonian oceanic plateau (Inner Osa Igneous Complex) and Coniacian–Santonian to Middle Eocene seamounts (Outer Osa Igneous Complex). The units are unrelated to other igneous complexes of Costa Rica and Panama and are exotic with respect to the partly overthickened Caribbean Plate; they formed by multiple accretions between the Late Cretaceous and Middle Eocene, prior to the genesis of the mélange. Events of high-rate accretion alternated with periods of low-rate accretion and tectonic erosion. The NW Osa Mélange in contact with the Osa Igneous Complex has a block-in-matrix texture at various scales, produced by sedimentary processes and later tectonically enhanced. Lithologies are mainly debris flows and hemipelagic deposits. Clastic components (grains to large boulders) indicate Late Eocene mass wasting of the Igneous Complex, forearc deposits and a volcanic arc. Gravitational accumulation of a thick pile of trench sediments culminated with shallow-level accretion. Mass-wasting along the margin was probably triggered by seamount subduction and/or plate reorganization at larger scale. The study provides new geological constraints for seamount subduction and associated accretionary processes, as well as on the erosive/accretionary nature of convergent margins devoid of accreted sediments.