Quaternary seismo-tectonic activity of the Polochic Fault, Guatemala

Christine Authemayou, Gilles Brocard, Christian Teyssier, Barbara Suski, Beatriz Cosenza, Sergio Morán-Ical, Claussen Walther González-Véliz, Miguel Angel Aguilar-Hengstenberg, Klaus Holliger

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24 Scopus citations


The Polochic-Motagua fault system is part of the sinistral transform boundary between the North American and Caribbean plates in Guatemala and the associated seismic activity poses a threat to ̃70% of the country's population. The aim of this study is to constrain the Late Quaternary activity of the Polochic fault by determining the active structure geometry and quantifying recent displacement rates as well as paleo-seismic events. Slip rates have been estimated from offsets of Quaternary volcanic markers and alluvial fan using in situ cosmogenic 36Cl exposure dating. Holocene left-lateral slip rate and Mid-Pleistocene vertical slip rate have been estimated to 4.8 ±2.3 mm/y and 0.3 ±0.06 mm/y, respectively, on the central part of the Polochic fault. The horizontal slip rate is within the range of longer-term geological slip rates and short-term GPS-based estimates. In addition, the non-negligible vertical motion participates in the uplift of the block north of the fault and seems to be a manifestation of the regional, far-field stress regime. We excavated the first trench for paleo-seismological study on the Polochic fault in which we distinguish four large paleo-seismic events since 17 ky during which the Polochic fault ruptured the ground surface.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberB07403
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2012


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