Abstract

Structural data combined with analysis of satellite images and seismic profiles show that a major left-lateral strike-slip fault affects the Veracruz basin and post-5 Ma volcanic rocks of the Los Tuxtlas volcanic field (LTVF). The main volcanic alignment of the LTVF is located along this fault. Additional structural data collected in the Trans-Mexican volcanic belt (areas of Xalapa, Teziutlán and Huauchinango) show that the shear zone affects Pliocene Trans-Mexican volcanic rocks. Low seismicity associated to faulted Quaternary markers such as alluvial fans, alluvial terraces and volcanoes argue for active faulting in this area. Plio-Quaternary strike-slip faulting in the Veracruz basin and in the eastern Trans-Mexican volcanic belt is important because it connects two important structural provinces: the left-lateral strike-slip faults province to the south and the left-lateral transtensive faulting that affects the central part of the Trans-Mexican volcanic belt. These three active deformation zones constitute the boundary between the southern Mexico block and the North American plate. It is generally assumed that strike-slip faulting along the Trans-Mexican and Central America volcanic arcs is the result of oblique subduction of the Cocos plate under the North American and Caribbean plates. However slip vectors along the Middle America trench are almost perpendicular to the trench. This Neogene sinistral strike-slip motion could be partially driven by the eastward motion of the Caribbean plate rather than by strain partitioning along the oblique Middle America trench subduction zone.

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