Previous workers, mostly using earthquake data, have postulated both discrete faults and complex, diffuse zones for the Caribbean-Nazca plate boundary in Panama. We have better resolved the location and character of late Neogene plate-boundary structures by using satellite imagery and a compilation of existing geologic map data. On the basis of these results, we propose that Panama is moving northwestward away from a zone of active convergence along the continental margin of South America toward more easily subducted areas of the Colombian Basin. Movement is accommodated across a diffuse zone by a complex interaction of oroclinal bending, left-lateral strike-slip faulting, and subduction.

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