Abstract

Several generations of sand blows and sand dikes, indicative of significant and recurrent liquefaction, are preserved in the late Holocene alluvial deposits of the Cibao Valley in northern Dominican Republic. The Cibao Valley is structurally controlled by the Septentrional fault, an onshore section of the North American-Caribbean strike-slip plate boundary. The Septentrional fault was previously studied in the central part of the valley, where it sinistrally offsets Holocene terrace risers and soil horizons. In the eastern and western parts of the valley, the Septentrional fault is buried by Holocene alluvial deposits, making direct study of the structure difficult. Liquefaction features that formed in these Holocene deposits as a result of strong ground shaking provide a record of earthquakes in these areas. Liquefaction features in the eastern Cibao Valley indicate that at least one historic earthquake, probably the moment magnitude, M 8, 4 August 1946 event, and two to four prehistoric earthquakes of M 7 to 8 struck this area during the past 1100 yr. The prehistoric earthquakes appear to cluster in time and could have resulted from rupture of the central and eastern sections of the Septentrional fault circa A.D. 1200. Liquefaction features in the western Cibao Valley indicate that one historic earthquake, probably the M 8, 7 May 1842 event, and two prehistoric earthquakes of M 7-8 struck this area during the past 1600 yr. Our findings suggest that rupture of the Septentrional fault circa A.D. 1200 may have extended beyond the central Cibao Valley and generated an earthquake of M 8. Additional information regarding the age and size distribution of liquefaction features is needed to reconstruct the prehistoric earthquake history of Hispaniola and to define the long-term behavior and earthquake potential of faults associated with the North American-Caribbean plate boundary.

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