GPS Estimate of Relative Motion between the Caribbean and South American Plates, and Geologic Implications for Trinidad and Venezuela

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plate tectonics, neotectonics, Global Positioning System (GPS), Caribbean, South America, Trinidad, Venezuela, seismic hazard

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)<0075:GEORMB>2.0.CO;2


Global Positioning System (GPS) data from eight sites on the Caribbean plate and five sites on the South American plate were inverted to derive an angular velocity vector describing present-day relative plate motion. Both the Caribbean and South American velocity data fit rigid-plate models to within ±1–2 mm/yr, the GPS velocity uncertainty. The Caribbean plate moves approximately due east relative to South America at a rate of ∼20 mm/yr along most of the plate boundary, significantly faster than the NUVEL-1A model prediction, but with similar azimuth. Pure wrenching is concentrated along the approximately east-striking, seismic, El Pilar fault in Venezuela. In contrast, transpression occurs along the 068°-trending Central Range (Warm Springs) fault in Trinidad, which is aseismic, possibly locked, and oblique to local plate motion.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

Geology, v. 29, issue 1, p. 75-78