Earthquakes in the Orozco transform zone: seismicity, source mechanisms, and tectonics

Journal of Geophysical Research B: Solid Earth
By:  and 



As part of the Rivera Ocean Seismic Experiment, a network of ocean bottom seismometers and hydrophones was deployed in order to determine the seismic characteristics of the Orozco transform fault in the central eastern Pacific. We present hypocentral locations and source mechanisms for 70 earthquakes recorded by this network. All epicenters are within the transform region of the Orozco Fracture Zone and clearly delineate the active plate boundary. About half of the epicenters define a narrow line of activity parallel to the spreading direction and situated along a deep topographic trough that forms the northern boundary of the transform zone (region 1). Most focal depths for these events are very shallow, within 4 km of the seafloor; several well-determined focal depths, however, are as great as 7 km. No shallowing of seismic activity is observed as the rise-transform intersection is approached; to the contrary, the deepest events are within 10 km of the intersection. First motion polarities for most of the earthquakes in region 1 are compatible with right-lateral strike slip faulting along a nearly vertical plane, striking parallel to the spreading direction. Another zone of activity is observed in the central part of the transform (region 2). The apparent horizontal and vertical distribution of activity in this region is more scattered than in the first, and the first motion radiation patterns of these events do not appear to be compatible with any known fault mechanism. Pronounced lateral variations in crustal velocity structure are indicated for the transform region from refraction data and measurements of wave propagation directions. The effect of this lateral heterogeneity on hypocenters and fault plane solutions is evaluated by tracing rays through a three-dimensional velocity grid. While findings for events in region 1 are not significantly affected, in region 2, epicentral mislocations of up to 10 km and azimuthal deflections of up to 45° may result from assuming a laterally homogeneous velocity structure. When corrected for the effects of lateral heterogeneity, the epicenters and fault plane solutions for earthquakes in region 2 are compatible with predominantly normal faulting along a topographic trough trending NW–SE; the focal depths, however, are poorly constrained. These results suggest an en echelon spreading center or leaky transform regime in the central transform region.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Earthquakes in the Orozco transform zone: seismicity, source mechanisms, and tectonics
Series title Journal of Geophysical Research B: Solid Earth
DOI 10.1029/JB088iB10p08203
Volume 88
Issue B10
Year Published 1983
Language English
Publisher American Geophysical Union
Contributing office(s) Coastal and Marine Geology Program, Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center
Description 23 p.
First page 8203
Last page 8225
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
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