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Plate tectonic history of the northeast Pacific and western North America

By
Tanya Atwater
Tanya Atwater
Department of Geological Sciences, University of California, Santa Barbara, California 93106
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Published:
January 01, 1989

In the present configuration of tectonic plates, the northeast Pacific region is dominated by the huge Pacific Plate. Along its eastern edge, the Pacific Plate presently interacts with two medium-sized oceanic plates, the Juan de Fuca and Cocos Plates, and a few related small platelets: the Yakutat, Explorer, South Gorda, and Rivera Plates (Fig. 1). All of these occupy relatively small regions along the edge of the Pacific Plate, interacting as well with the North American Plate along its western rim.

The most complex modern plate boundaries in the northeast Pacific region occur where the eastern edge of the Pacific Plate abuts directly against North America. These are primarily strike- slip boundaries with subordinate amounts of extension: the Queen Charlotte-Fairweather fault system, including the oblique motion of the Yakutat block, and the San Andreas fault system, including the oblique extension in the Gulf of California. The diffuse nature of the earthquake zones around these features, depicted in Figure 1, shows that plate boundaries within the continental lithosphere are not as narrow and simple as those within the oceanic plates. The broad zones of activity in the Great Basin show the existence of at least two diffuse inland zones of deformation, as well.

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Contents

DNAG, Geology of North America

The Eastern Pacific Ocean and Hawaii

E. L. Winterer
E. L. Winterer
Scripps Institution of Oceanography La Jolla, California 92093
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Donald M. Hussong
Donald M. Hussong
University of Hawaii Department of Geology and Geophysics Honolulu, Hawaii 96822
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Robert W. Decker
Robert W. Decker
4087 Silver Bar Road Mariposa, California 95338
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Geological Society of America
Volume
N
ISBN electronic:
9780813754659
Publication date:
January 01, 1989

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