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ASSESSMENT OF THE TSUNAMIGENIC POTENTIAL ALONG THE NORTHERN CARIBBEAN MARGIN Case Study: Earthquake and Tsunamis of 12 January 2010 in Haiti.

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Author(s): George Pararas-Carayannis

Journal: Science of Tsunami Hazards
ISSN 8755-6839

Volume: 29;
Issue: 3;
Start page: 175;
Date: 2010;
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Keywords: Tsunami | Haiti | Hispaniola | Caribbean northern margin | Seismotectonics.

ABSTRACT
The potential tsunami risk for Hispaniola, as well as for the other Greater Antilles Islands is assessed by reviewing the complex geotectonic processes and regimes along the Northern Caribbean margin, including the convergent, compressional and collisional tectonic activity of subduction, transition, shearing, lateral movements, accretion and crustal deformation caused by the eastward movement of the Caribbean plate in relation to the North American plate. These complex tectonic interactions have created a broad, diffuse tectonic boundary that has resulted in an extensive, internal deformational sliver slab - the Gonâve microplate – as well as further segmentation into two other microplates with similarly diffused boundary characteristics where tsunamigenic earthquakes have and will again occur. The Gonâve microplate is the most prominent along the Northern Caribbean margin and extends from the Cayman Spreading Center to Mona Pass, between Puerto Rico and the island of Hispaniola, where the 1918 destructive tsunami was generated. The northern boundary of this sliver microplate is defined by the Oriente strike-slip fault south of Cuba, which appears to be an extension of the fault system traversing the northern part of Hispaniola, while the southern boundary is defined by another major strike-slip fault zone where the Haiti earthquake of 12 January 2010 occurred. Potentially tsunamigenic regions along the Northern Caribbean margin are located not only along the boundaries of the Gonâve microplate’s dominant western transform zone but particularly within the eastern tectonic regimes of the margin where subduction is dominant - particularly along the Puerto Rico trench. The Haiti earthquake of 12 January 2010 and its focal mechanism are examined, as they provide additional clues of potential tsunami generation that can occur along transform zones and, more specifically, from interplate and intraplate seismic events and subsequently induced collateral hazards, such as aerial or submarine landslides triggered by strong surface seismic waves.
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