Episodic folding inferred from syntectonic carbonate sedimentation: The Santaren anticline, Bahamas foreland

José L. Masaferro, Mayte Bulnes, Josep Poblet, Gregor P. Eberli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


Sedimentation coeval with growth of the Santaren anticline provides an excellent opportunity to study the relationships between sedimentation and anticline uplift through time. The Santaren anticline is a kilometre-scale, NW-SE trending fold offshore of Cuba, in the Bahamas foreland of the Cuban fold and thrust belt. The growth strata associated with this anticline consist of a thick package of carbonate sediments that were deposited without major interruptions from Neogene (and perhaps before) to present day. The excellent seismic resolution and age control of a number of seismic horizons within the growth strata allowed us to define 25 growth beds, each of them representing between 0.1 and 3.2 Ma. An analysis of the thickness of these beds allowed us to determine accurate quantitative values of cumulative decompacted thickness and crestal structural relief at the time of their deposition. In addition, for the same periods, sedimentation and fold uplift rates were calculated. Moreover, some information on relationships between sedimentation and fold uplift rates was inferred from the growth stratal geometry. Growth beds that overlap the fold crest and thin over it indicate that sedimentation rates outpaced fold growth rates during their deposition. Some overlapping beds have constant thickness indicating that no fold uplift occurred during their sedimentation. The rest of the growth beds exhibit onlap/offlap geometries that do not indicate a unique sedimentation/fold uplift rate relationship. Only in those cases in which the geometry of the underlying bed at the end of its deposition is known is it possible to infer a specific sedimentation/fold uplift rate relationship. As a result of this analysis, we have been able to (1) illustrate that the geometry of the growth strata associated with the Santaren anticline results from competition between sedimentation and tectonic fold uplift, (2) document the episodic and non-steady nature of fold growth, and (3) show that short-term rates (at the scale of hundreds of thousands years) provide much insight into the interplay between sedimentation and tectonic fold uplift that control the growth stratal patterns.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11-24
Number of pages14
JournalSedimentary Geology
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - 2002


  • Bahamas foreland
  • Episodic folding
  • Fold uplift
  • Growth stratal geometry
  • Santaren anticline

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geology
  • Stratigraphy


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