Extensive diversity of tectonic regimes characterizes the perimeter of the Caribbean plate, involving no fewer than four major adjacent plates (North America, South America, Nazca, and Cocos). Inclined zones of deep earthquakes (Wadati-Benioff zones), deep ocean trenches, and arcs of volcanoes clearly indicate subduction of oceanic lithosphere along the Central American and Atlantic Ocean margins of the Caribbean plate, while shallow seismicity and focal mechanisms of major shocks in Guatemala, northern Venezuela, and the Cayman Ridge and Cayman Trench indicate transform fault and pull-apart basin tectonics.
The depth profile panels on this map portray earthquakes that extend from the Middle America Trench axis in the west to depths as great as 300 km beneath Guatemala, and from the Lesser Antilles Trench axis in the east to depths of approximately 200 km beneath Guadeloupe and the northeast Caribbean. In contrast, seismicity along the segments of the Caribbean plate margins from Guatemala to Hispaniola and from Trinidad to western Venezuela is indicative of transform fault tectonics.
Additional Publication Details
USGS Numbered Series
Seismicity of the Earth 1900-2007, Caribbean Plate and Vicinity