A Geological Interpretation of Seasat-Sar Imagery of Jamaica

Document Type


Publication Date



Rock textures, Fault zones, Limestones, Surface texture, Radar, Karsts, Shear zones, Tectonics, Radar imaging

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)



Spaceborne radar imagery obtained from SEASAT allows an unobscured large-scale view of Jamaica that can be used for geological interpretation. We have mapped lineaments and textures visible in these images and compared them with the known geology of the Tertiary karst limestones covering the central and western parts of the island. Some of these radar textures correlate with lithological units, while others follow tectonically-controlled zones or structural blocks. Mapping of radar lineaments has led to the recognition of three new aspects of Jamaican faults: (1) a major through-going NE-SW fault system, termed here the Vere-Annotto lineament; (2) a series of curving scissor faults in the central part of the island; and (3) the related observation that the dominant NNW-SSE tectonic fabric of the central part of the island takes the form of an elongate sigmoid in plan view. During most of the Neogene Jamaica has been part of an active zone of left-lateral transform motion between the Caribbean and North American plates and is a region of anomalous uplift. The radar imagery is a sensitive recorder of the deformation undergone by the karst limestones in this tectonic regime. We explain some of our observations with models for a complex, evolving shear zone.

Was this content written or created while at USF?


Citation / Publisher Attribution

The Journal of Geology, v. 92, no. 5, p. 561-581