Geomorphology of the Puerto Rico Trench and Cayman Trough in the Context of the Geological Evolution of the Caribbean Sea
Annales Universitatis Mariae Curie-Sklodowska, sectio B – Geographia, Geologia, Mineralogia et Petrographia, 75, 115-141. DOI: 10.17951/b.2020.75.115-141
27 Pages Posted: 4 Feb 2021
Date Written: November 24, 2020
This paper concerns the Caribbean Sea submarine geomorphology and bathymetry and especially the Puerto Rico Trench and the Cayman Trough, using thematic mapping, geomor- phological modelling and statistical analysis. The technical tools include Generic Mapping Tools (GMT) cartographic scripting toolset. The data include GEBCO digital bathymetric model in grid format, geopotential model of the Earth’s gravity field EGM2008, marine free-air Faye gravity anomalies from a combined GEOS3/SEASAT/GEOSAT altimeter data set, sediment thickness from the GlobSed 5-arc-minute grid model and vector layers of GMT (coastlines, river network, borders). The cross-sectioning was done by the “grdtrack” module. Differences between the form of the Puerto Rico Trench and Cayman Trough presumably result from different structure and geological evolution. The geomorphology of the segment of the Puerto Rico Trench (67.5°W and 19.90°N to 64.1°W and 19.82°N) has a gentle curvature of the slope in plane (about 13° slope steepness). The slopes are steeper in the northern part (about 32°) but higher on the continental slope. The profiles of the Puerto Rico Trench are asymmetric due to the tectonic factors. The seabed of the Cayman Trough is flat at the segment (80.0°W and 17.7°N to 78.5°W and 19.5°N). Its profile is asymmetric: northern part is steep (about 57°), southern part is about 16°. A very large negative Faye free-air gravity anomaly (up to –380 mGal) is seen in the Puerto Rico Trench, south of Cuba as well as in the north-eastern part of the Cayman Trough. The tectonic plate subduction in the Lesser Antilles, Central America and seafloor spreading is reflected in the morphostructure in the Cayman Trough and Puerto Rico Trench. Modeled cross-sectioning profiles show differences both for the Trench and Trough. In contrast with the Puerto Rico Trench with distinct density peak (680 samples for depths –5,200 to –5,400 m), the Cayman Trough has a bimodal data distribution: two peaks correspond to the two intervals: 1) –3,250 m to –1,000 m; and 2) –5,250 to –3,500. The paper contributes to Caribbean Sea geological studies by using GMT for geomorphological modelling.
Keywords: Earth Gravitational Model; Gravity Anomalies; GMT; Cayman Trough; Puerto Rico Trench; Caribbean Sea
JEL Classification: Y92, Y10, C00, C02, C31, C33, C60, C61, C63, C65, C67, C80, Q00, Q01, Q24, Q25, Q30, Q34, Q35, Q40
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation