The Septentrional fault zone (SFZ) is the major North American-Caribbean, strike-slip, plate boundary fault at the longitude of eastern Hispaniola. The SFZ traverses the densely populated Cibao Valley of the Dominican Republic, forming a prominent scarp in alluvium. Our studies at four sites along the central SFZ are aimed at quantifying the late Quaternary behavior of this structure to better understand the seismic hazard it represents for the northeastern Caribbean. Our investigations of excavations at sites near Rio Cenovi show that the most recent ground-rupturing earthquake along this fault in the north central Dominican Republic occurred between A.D. 1040 and A.D. 1230, and involved a minimum of ???4 m of left-lateral slip and 2.3 m of normal dip slip at that site. Our studies of offset stream terraces at two locations, Rio Juan Lopez and Rio Licey, provide late Holocene slip rate estimates of 6-9 mm/yr and a maximum of 11-12 mm/yr, respectively, across the Septentrional fault. Combining these results gives a best estimate of 6-12 mm/yr for the slip rate across the SFZ. Three excavations, two near Tenares and one at the Rio Licey site, yielded evidence for the occurrence of earlier prehistoric earthquakes. Dates of strata associated with the penultimate event suggest that it occurred post-A.D. 30, giving a recurrence interval of 800-1200 years. These studies indicate that the SFZ has likely accumulated elastic strain sufficient to generate a major earthquake during the more than 800 years since it last slipped and should be considered likely to produce a destructive future earthquake.
Additional publication details
Slip rate and earthquake recurrence along the central Septentrional fault, North American-Caribbean plate boundary, Dominican Republic