Abstract

The interaction of the Pacific-Farallon spreading centers with the North American convergent margin off Baja California, Mexico, supposedly ceased at 12 Ma, when plate convergence and seafloor spreading stopped. We propose a new geodynamic evolution based on full bathymetry coverage and magnetic profiles from 23°N to 27°N (Famex cruise of the R/V L'Atalante, April 2002). The data unveil a major clockwise rotation of the Pacific-Farallon spreading direction, starting ca. 14 Ma, that formed a series of short spreading centers that became extinct ca. 8–7 Ma. We suggest that the transcurrent motion between the Pacific and North America along Baja California was accommodated by seafloor spreading and oblique convergence along the trench. This change in spreading direction was followed by a concomitant progressive demise of both Pacific-Farallon seafloor spreading and Farallon–North America subduction that are attributed to the break-off of the Farallon slab. This also resulted in the opening of a trench-parallel slab window beneath Baja California.

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