New seismicity data on western Venezuela and northeastern Colombia are presented. Teleseismically recorded earthquakes from 1930 through 1970 have been relocated by Joint Hypocenter Determination (JHD) or with source-station adjustments calculated by JHD. Additionally, 540 days of recording have been obtained with local seismographs installed near the Boconó Fault.
The most intense shallow activity occurred north and south of the Tachira Depression along the eastern flank of the Cordillera Oriental of Colombia. The Boconó Fault Zone is seismically active; small shallow shocks were recorded in it by the local stations. Shallow earthquakes also occur in the Cordillera de Mérida away from the Boconó Fault.
The new hypocenters for the intermediate-depth Bucaramanga earthquakes define a smaller source volume than defined by previously computed hypocenters. A previously inferred southward-dipping seismic zone near Bucaramanga is probably spurious, a consequence of correlation between errors in latitude and errors in depth. If one assumes that these intermediate-depth earthquakes lie on a single lithospheric slab, that slab strikes approximately north and dips to the east.
The distribution of hypocenters and focal mechanisms support the platetectonic hypothesis that the present tectonics of northwestern Venezuela are a result of eastward motion of the Caribbean plate with respect to the South American plate. The principal interface between these two plates may have changed within the last 5 m.y. from a zone of underthrusting west of the Sierra de Perija to the predominantly right-lateral Boconó Fault Zone.