International Journal of Earth Sciences

, Volume 106, Issue 1, pp 1–17 | Cite as

Structural analysis of hanging wall and footwall blocks within the Río Guanajibo fold-and-thrust belt in Southwest Puerto Rico

  • Daniel A. Laó-DávilaEmail author
  • Pablo A. Llerandi-Román
Original Paper


The Río Guanajibo fold-and-thrust belt (RGFT), composed of Cretaceous serpentinite and volcano-sedimentary rocks, represents the deformation front of a contractional event in SW Puerto Rico during the Paleogene. Previous studies inferred structural and stratigraphic relationships from poorly exposed outcrops. New road cuts exposed the Yauco (YF) and El Rayo Formations (ERF) providing insights on the deformation of the hanging wall and footwall. We described the nature and orientation of faults and folds and analyzed the kinematic indicators to characterize the deformation. The YF occurs in the hanging wall and shows a sequence of folded, medium-bedded mudstone and thinly bedded shale and sandstone. Major folds strike NW–SE and are gentle with steeply inclined axial planes and sub-horizontal fold axes. Minor folds are open with moderately inclined axial planes and gently to moderately inclined SE-plunging fold axes. NW–SE striking reverse and thrust faults cut layers and show movement to the SW. Steep left-lateral faults strike NW–SE and NE–SW, and smaller right-lateral strike-slip faults strike NNE–SSW. At the footwall, the ERF consists of bioclastic limestone and polymictic orthoconglomerates and paraconglomerates. Reverse and strike-slip faults cut along lithological contacts. Results suggest that the hanging wall and footwall accommodated strain along preexisting weaknesses, which are dependent on lithology and sedimentary structures. The kinematic analysis suggests that shortening in the NE–SW direction was partitioned between folding and interlayer shortening, accommodated by flexural slip, and reverse and left-lateral faults that resulted from contraction. The RGFT represents the Paleogene back arc deformation of a bivergent thrust system.


Thrust faults Kinematic analysis Caribbean Foreland Island arc Bivergent 



The Boone Pickens School of Geology provided funds for transportation to D. A. Laó-Dávila. P. A. Llerandi-Román thanks the College of Liberal Arts and Science and the Department of Geology at Grand Valley State University for granting a sabbatical leave that allowed him to collect data for this project. The authors thank Michael Martínez for helping to identify the rudist fossils, Dominike Merle Johnson for providing comments to a previous version of the manuscript, and Carlos Cuebas Matos for informing us of the existence of the outcrops. Mohamed Abdelsalam provided artwork guidance. The comments of one anonymous reviewer improved the manuscript. This is Oklahoma State University Boone Pickens School of Geology contribution number 2015-34.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Daniel A. Laó-Dávila
    • 1
    Email author
  • Pablo A. Llerandi-Román
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Boone Pickens School of GeologyOklahoma State UniversityStillwaterUSA
  2. 2.Geology DepartmentGrand Valley State UniversityAllendaleUSA
  3. 3.Departamento de Ciencias Físicas, Facultad de Estudios GeneralesUniversidad de Puerto RicoRío PiedrasUSA

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