A large amphitheater-shaped scarp, approximately 55 km across, was imaged on the northern insular slope of Puerto Rico using long-range sidescan sonar and bathymetric data. This scarp results from the removal of more than 1500 km3 of Tertiary strata. A review of seismic-reflection profiles, stratigraphic data, and subsidence models of the northern insular margin of Puerto Rico were used to infer that large-scale slope failure was induced by the tectonic oversteepening of the insular slope and was responsible for the formation of the scarp. The oversteepening probably was caused by the most recent episode of convergence of the Caribbean and North American plates, which began between approximately 4 and 2.5 m.y. ago. The Tertiary strata have been tilted approximately 4.5?? to the north in the last 4 m.y. ?? 1991.
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A giant submarine slope failure on the northern insular slope of Puerto Rico