Abstract

SeaMARC II maps of the southern wall of the Cayman Trough between Honduras and Jamaica show zones of continuous, well-defined fault lineaments adjacent and parallel to the wall, both to the east and west of the Cayman spreading axis. These lineaments mark the present, active traces of transform faults which intersect the southern end of the spreading axis at a triple junction. The Swan Islands transform fault to the west is dominated by two major lineaments that overlap with right-stepping sense across a large push-up ridge beneath the Swan Islands. The fault zone to the east of the axis, named the Walton fault, is more complex, containing multiple fault strands and a large pull-apart structure. The Walton fault links the spreading axis to Jamaican and Hispaniolan strike-slip faults, and it defines the southern boundary of a microplate composed of the eastern Cayman Trough and western Hispaniola. The presence of this microplate raises questions about the veracity of Caribbean plate velocities based primarily on Cayman Trough opening rates.

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