Key words Costa Rica
Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Abstract The Quepos, Nicoya and Herradura oceanic igneous terranes in Costa Rica are conspicuous features of a Mid to Late Cretaceous regional magmatic event that encompasses similar terranes in Central America, Colombia, Ecuador and the Caribbean. The Quepos terrane (66 Ma), which consists of ol-cpx phyric, tholeiitic pillow lavas overlain by highly vesicular hyaloclastites, breccias and conglomerates, is interpreted as an uplifted seamount/ocean island complex. The Nicoya (∼90 Ma) and Herradura terranes consist of fault-bounded sequences of sediments, tholeiitic volcanics (pillow lavas and massive sheet flows) and plutonic rocks. The volcanic rocks were emplaced at relatively high eruption rates in moderate to deep water, possibly forming part of an oceanic plateau. Major and trace element data from Nicoya/Herradura tholeiites indicate higher melting temperatures than inferred for normal mid-ocean-ridge basalts (MORB) and/or a different source composition. Sr–Nd–Pb isotopic ratios from all three terranes are distinct from MORB but resemble those from the Galápagos hotspot. The volcanological, petrological and geochemical data from Costa Rican volcanic terranes, combined with published age data, paleomagnetic results and plate tectonic reconstructions of this region, provide strong evidence for a Mid Cretaceous (∼90Ma) age for the Galápagos hotspot, making it one of the oldest known, active hotspots on Earth. Our results also support an origin of the Caribbean Plate through melting of the head of the Galápagos starting plume.
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