Gonâve Microplate

The Gonâve Microplate forms part of the boundary between the North American Plate and the Caribbean Plate. It is bounded to the west by the Cayman spreading center, to the north by the Septentrional-Oriente fault zone and to the south by the Walton fault zone and the Enriquillo-Plantain Garden fault zone. The existence of this microplate was first proposed in 1991.[1] This has been confirmed by GPS measurements, which show that the overall displacement between the two main plates is split almost equally between the transform fault zones that bound the Gonâve microplate.[2] The microplate is expected to eventually become accreted to the North American Plate.[3]

Gonâve microplate
The Gonâve microplate, showing the fault zones that bound it

Geographic extent

The Gonâve Microplate is an approximately 1,100 km long strip, consisting mainly of oceanic crust of the Cayman Trough but including island arc material at its eastern end on the western part of Hispaniola.[1] Further east a separate Hispaniola microplate has been identified.[4] At its western end, the Gonâve Microplate is bounded by the mid-Cayman spreading centre. To the north it is bounded by the Septentrional-Oriente fault zone and to the south by a more complex strike-slip fault system that includes the Walton fault and the Enriquillo-Plantain Garden fault zone. As the northern and southern boundaries approach the eastern edge of the Caribbean Plate they become less distinct and the eastern boundary is not as well defined.

Evidence for existence

The presence of a separate Gonâve Microplate was first suggested by the analysis of sidescan sonar results from the Cayman Trough.[1] This study found evidence for continuous transform type faults along the southern flank of the trough, to both sides of the spreading centre. GPS data supports the existence of the microplate by showing that the relative motion between the North American and Caribbean plates is split almost equally between the two bounding transform fault systems.[2] Comparison of these rates with observations of magnetic stripes within the Cayman Trough suggests that displacement is increasingly being transferred from the northern fault system to the southern one. This observation is consistent with the eventual accretion of the Gonâve Microplate to the North American Plate.


The Gonâve Microplate began to form in the Early Eocene after the northern part of the leading edge of the Caribbean Plate (present day Cuba) collided with the Bahamas platform.[5] This part of the plate was unable to move further to the east and a transform fault system developed to the south, effectively cutting off this northern area and accreting it to the North American Plate. A large left-stepping offset formed along this zone just east of the Yucatán peninsula creating a pull-apart basin, which continued to extend until the onset of seafloor spreading, creating the Cayman spreading centre. Further movement on this fault system created the Cayman Trough, although at that time the future microplate was still firmly attached to the Caribbean Plate. During the Late Miocene, the part of the Caribbean Plate formed by Hispaniola began to collide with the Bahamas platform and a new strike-slip fault system developed through Jamaica and southern Hispaniola, the Enriquillo-Plantain Garden fault zone, isolating part of the Cayman Trough and the central part of Hispaniola to form the Gonâve microplate.[5] It has been suggested that the Gonave microplate will also become accreted to the North American Plate, as all the plate boundary displacement transfers onto the southern fault system.[3]


  1. ^ a b c Rosencrantz, E.; Mann P. (1991). "SeaMARC II mapping of transform faults in the Cayman Trough, Caribbean Sea". Geology. 19 (7): 690–693. Bibcode:1991Geo....19..690R. doi:10.1130/0091-7613(1991)019<0690:SIMOTF>2.3.CO;2. Retrieved 7 February 2010.
  2. ^ a b DeMets, C.; Wiggins-Grandison W. (2007). "Deformation of Jamaica and motion of the Gonâve microplate from GPS and seismic data" (PDF). Geophysical Journal International. 168 (1): 362–378. Bibcode:2007GeoJI.168..362D. doi:10.1111/j.1365-246X.2006.03236.x. Retrieved 7 December 2011.
  3. ^ a b Mann, P.; Taylor, F.W.; Edwards, R. Lawrence; Ku, Teh Lung (1995). "Actively evolving microplate formation by oblique collision and sideways motion along strike-slip faults: An example from the northeastern Caribbean plate margin". Tectonophysics. 246 (1–3): 1–69. Bibcode:1995Tectp.246....1M. doi:10.1016/0040-1951(94)00268-E.
  4. ^ Mann, P.; Calais, E.; Ruegg, J-C.; DeMets, C.; Jansma, P.E.; Mattioli, G.S. (2002). "Oblique collision in the northeastern Caribbean from GPS measurements and geological observations". Tectonics. 21 (6): 7&#45, 1–7&#45, 26. Bibcode:2002Tecto..21.1057M. doi:10.1029/2001tc001304.
  5. ^ a b Leroy, S.; Mauffret, A.; Patriat, P.; Mercier de Lépinay, B. (2000). "An alternative interpretation of the Cayman trough evolution from a reidentification of magnetic anomalies". Geophysical Journal International. 141 (3): 539–557. Bibcode:2000GeoJI.141..539L. doi:10.1046/j.1365-246x.2000.00059.x. Retrieved 20 January 2016.
1692 Jamaica earthquake

The 1692 Jamaica earthquake struck Port Royal, Jamaica on 7 June. A stopped pocket watch found in the harbour in 1959 indicated that it occurred around 11:43 a.m.Known as the "storehouse and treasury of the West Indies", and as "one of the wickedest places on Earth", it was, at the time, the unofficial capital of Jamaica, one of the busiest and wealthiest ports in the West Indies, and a common home port for many of the privateers and pirates operating within the Caribbean Sea.

The earthquake caused most of the city to sink below sea level.

About 2,000 people died as a result of the earthquake and the following tsunami; and, about another 3,000 people died in the days following the earthquakes, due to injuries and disease.

1842 Cap-Haïtien earthquake

The 1842 Cap-Haïtien earthquake occurred at 17:00 local time (21:00 UTC) on 7 May. It had an estimated magnitude of 8.1 on the Ms scale and triggered a destructive tsunami. It badly affected the northern coast of Haiti and part of what is now the Dominican Republic. Port-de-Paix suffered the greatest damage from both earthquake and tsunami. Approximately 5,000 people were killed by the effects of the earthquake shaking and another 300 by the tsunami.

1907 Kingston earthquake

The 1907 Kingston earthquake which shook the capital of the island of Jamaica with a magnitude of 6.5 on the moment magnitude scale on Monday January 14, at about 3:30 p.m. local time (20:36 UTC), was considered by many writers of that time one of the world's deadliest earthquakes recorded in history. Every building in Kingston was damaged by the earthquake and subsequent fires, which lasted for three hours before any efforts could be made to check them, culminated in the death of 800 to 1,000 people, and left approximately 10,000 homeless and $25 million in material damage ($672.23 million in 2018). Shortly after, a tsunami was reported on the north coast of Jamaica, with a maximum wave height of about 2 m (6–8 ft).

2003 Dominican Republic earthquake

The 2003 Dominican Republic earthquake occurred on September 22 at 00:45:37 local time with a moment magnitude of 6.4 and a maximum Mercalli intensity of VII (Very strong). The shock occurred on the northern coast of the Dominican Republic near the town of Luperon, Puerto Plata and 40 miles (64 km) north the city of Santiago de los Caballeros. This earthquake could also be felt in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Research indicated that it was one of a series of westward-propagating earthquakes along the boundary between the North American Plate and the Caribbean Plate.

2010 Haiti earthquake

The 2010 Haiti earthquake (French: Séisme de 2010 à Haïti; Haitian Creole: Tranblemanntè 12 janvye 2010 nan peyi Ayiti) was a catastrophic magnitude 7.0 Mw earthquake, with an epicenter near the town of Léogâne (Ouest) and approximately 25 kilometres (16 mi) west of Port-au-Prince, Haiti's capital. The earthquake occurred at 16:53 local time (21:53 UTC) on Tuesday, 12 January 2010.By 24 January, at least 52 aftershocks measuring 4.5 or greater had been recorded. An estimated three million people were affected by the quake. Death toll estimates range from 100,000 to about 160,000 to Haitian government figures from 220,000 to 316,000, although these latter figures are a matter of some dispute. The government of Haiti estimated that 250,000 residences and 30,000 commercial buildings had collapsed or were severely damaged. The nation's history of national debt, prejudicial trade policies by other countries, and foreign intervention into national affairs, contributed to the existing poverty and poor housing conditions that increased the death toll from the disaster.The earthquake caused major damage in Port-au-Prince, Jacmel and other cities in the region. Notable landmark buildings were significantly damaged or destroyed, including the Presidential Palace, the National Assembly building, the Port-au-Prince Cathedral, and the main jail. Among those killed were Archbishop of Port-au-Prince Joseph Serge Miot, and opposition leader Micha Gaillard. The headquarters of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), located in the capital, collapsed, killing many, including the Mission's Chief, Hédi Annabi.Many countries responded to appeals for humanitarian aid, pledging funds and dispatching rescue and medical teams, engineers and support personnel. The most-watched telethon in history aired on 22 January, called "Hope for Haiti Now," raising US$58 million by the next day. Communication systems, air, land, and sea transport facilities, hospitals, and electrical networks had been damaged by the earthquake, which hampered rescue and aid efforts; confusion over who was in charge, air traffic congestion, and problems with prioritising flights further complicated early relief work. Port-au-Prince's morgues were overwhelmed with tens of thousands of bodies. These had to be buried in mass graves.As rescues tailed off, supplies, medical care and sanitation became priorities. Delays in aid distribution led to angry appeals from aid workers and survivors, and looting and sporadic violence were observed. On 22 January, the United Nations noted that the emergency phase of the relief operation was drawing to a close, and on the following day, the Haitian government officially called off the search for survivors.

Caribbean Plate

The Caribbean Plate is a mostly oceanic tectonic plate underlying Central America and the Caribbean Sea off the north coast of South America.

Roughly 3.2 million square kilometers (1.2 million square miles) in area, the Caribbean Plate borders the North American Plate, the South American Plate, the Nazca Plate and the Cocos Plate. These borders are regions of intense seismic activity, including frequent earthquakes, occasional tsunamis, and volcanic eruptions.

Cayman Trough

The Cayman Trough (also known as the Cayman Trench, Bartlett Deep and Bartlett Trough) is a complex transform fault zone pull-apart basin which contains a small spreading ridge, the Mid-Cayman Rise, on the floor of the western Caribbean Sea between Jamaica and the Cayman Islands. It is the deepest point in the Caribbean Sea and forms part of the tectonic boundary between the North American Plate and the Caribbean Plate. It extends from the Windward Passage, going south of the Sierra Maestra of Cuba toward Guatemala. The transform continues onshore as the Motagua Fault, which cuts across Guatemala and extends offshore under the Pacific Ocean, where it intersects the Middle America Trench subduction zone.

The relatively narrow trough trends east-northeast to west-southwest and has a maximum depth of 7,686 metres (25,217 ft). Within the trough is a slowly spreading north-south ridge which may be the result of an offset or gap of approximately 420 kilometres (260 mi) along the main fault trace. The Cayman spreading ridge shows a long-term opening rate of 11–12 mm/yr. The eastern section of the trough has been named the Gonâve Microplate. The Gonâve plate extends from the spreading ridge east to the island of Hispaniola. It is bounded on the north by the Oriente and Septentrional fault zones. On the south the Gonâve is bounded by the Walton fault zone, the Jamaica restraining bend and the Enriquillo-Plantain Garden fault zone. The two bounding strike slip fault zones are left lateral. The motion relative to the North American Plate is 11 mm/yr to the east and the motion relative to the Caribbean Plate is 8 mm/yr. The western section of the trough is bounded to its south by the Swan Islands Transform Fault.During the Eocene the trough was the site of a subduction zone which formed the volcanic arc of the Cayman Ridge and the Sierra Maestra volcanic terrain of Cuba to the north, as the northeastward-moving Caribbean Plate was subducted beneath the southwest-moving North American Plate, or as some researchers contend, beneath a plate fragment dubbed the East Cuban Microplate.In 2010 a UK team from the National Oceanography Centre in Southampton (NOCS), equipped with an autonomously controlled robot submarine, began mapping the full extent of the trench and discovered black smokers on the ocean floor at a depth of 5 km (3.1 mi), the deepest yet found. In January 2012, the researchers announced that water exits the vents at a temperature possibly exceeding 450 °C (842 °F), making them among the hottest known undersea vents. They also announced the discovery of new species, including an eyeless shrimp with a light-sensing organ on its back.

Enriquillo–Plantain Garden fault zone

The Enriquillo–Plantain Garden fault zone (EPGFZ or EPGZ) is a system of active coaxial left lateral-moving strike slip faults which runs along the southern side of the island of Hispaniola, where Haiti and the Dominican Republic are located. The EPGFZ is named for Lake Enriquillo in the Dominican Republic where the fault zone emerges, and extends across the southern portion of Hispaniola through the Caribbean to the region of the Plantain Garden River in Jamaica.

Geology of Jamaica

The Geology of Jamaica is formed of rocks of Cretaceous to Neogene age. The basement consists of Cretaceous island arc and back-arc basin sequences that formed above a subduction zone. The cover is of mainly Eocene to Miocene shallow water limestones, that have been uplifted due to the presence of a restraining bend along the major strike-slip faults that bound the southern edge of the Gonâve Microplate to the north of the island.


Haiti ( (listen); French: Haïti [a.iti]; Haitian Creole: Ayiti [ajiti]), officially the Republic of Haiti (French: République d'Haïti; Haitian Creole: Repiblik Ayiti) and formerly called Hayti, is a country located on the island of Hispaniola in the Greater Antilles archipelago of the Caribbean Sea, to the east of Cuba and Jamaica and south of The Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands. It occupies the western three-eighths of the island which it shares with the Dominican Republic. To its south-west lies the small island of Navassa Island, which is administered by the United States but claimed by Haiti as part of its territory. Haiti is 27,750 square kilometers (10,714 sq mi) in size and has an estimated population of 10.8 million, making it the most populous country in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the second-most populous country in the Caribbean after Cuba.

The island was originally inhabited by the indigenous Taíno people, who migrated from South America. The first Europeans arrived on 5 December 1492 during the first voyage of Christopher Columbus, who initially believed he had found India or China. Columbus subsequently founded the first European settlement in the Americas, La Navidad, on what is now the northeastern coast of Haiti. The island was claimed by Spain and named La Española, forming part of the Spanish Empire until the early 17th century. However, competing claims and settlements by the French led to the western portion of the island being ceded to France in 1697, which was subsequently named Saint-Domingue. French colonists established lucrative sugarcane plantations, worked by vast numbers of slaves brought from Africa, which made the colony one of the richest in the world.

In the midst of the French Revolution (1789–99), slaves and free people of color launched the Haitian Revolution (1791–1804), led by a former slave and the first black general of the French Army, Toussaint Louverture. After 12 years of conflict, Napoleon Bonaparte's forces were defeated by Louverture's successor, Jean-Jacques Dessalines, who declared Haiti's sovereignty on 1 January 1804 — the first independent nation of Latin America and the Caribbean, the second republic in the Americas, the first country to abolish slavery, and the only state in history established by a successful slave revolt. Apart from Alexandre Pétion, the first President of the Republic, all of Haiti's first leaders were former slaves. After a brief period in which the country was split in two, President Jean-Pierre Boyer united the country and then attempted to bring the whole of Hispaniola under Haitian control, precipitating a long series of wars that ended in the 1870s when Haiti formally recognised the independence of the Dominican Republic. Haiti's first century of independence was characterised by political instability, ostracism by the international community and the payment of a crippling debt to France. Political volatility and foreign economic influence in the country prompted the United States to occupy the country from 1915-34. Following a series of short-lived presidencies, François 'Papa Doc' Duvalier took power in 1956, ushering in a long period of autocratic rule that was continued by his son Jean-Claude 'Baby Doc' Duvalier that lasted until 1986; the period was characterised by state-sanctioned violence against the opposition and civilians, corruption and economic stagnation. Since 1986 Haiti has been attempting to establish a more democratic political system.

Haiti is a founding member of the United Nations, Organization of American States (OAS), Association of Caribbean States, and the International Francophonie Organisation. In addition to CARICOM, it is a member of the International Monetary Fund, World Trade Organization, and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States. Historically poor and politically unstable, Haiti has the lowest Human Development Index in the Americas. Since the turn of the 21st century, the country has endured a coup d'état, which prompted a U.N. intervention, as well as a deadly earthquake that killed over 250,000.

Index of Haiti-related articles

The following is an alphabetical list of topics related to the Republic of Haiti.

List of tectonic plates

This is a list of tectonic plates on the Earth's surface. Tectonic plates are pieces of Earth's crust and uppermost mantle, together referred to as the lithosphere. The plates are around 100 km (62 mi) thick and consist of two principal types of material: oceanic crust (also called sima from silicon and magnesium) and continental crust (sial from silicon and aluminium). The composition of the two types of crust differs markedly, with mafic basaltic rocks dominating oceanic crust, while continental crust consists principally of lower-density felsic granitic rocks.

Mid-Cayman Rise

The Mid-Cayman Rise or Mid-Cayman Spreading Center is a relatively short (110 km long) divergent plate boundary in the middle of the Cayman Trough. It forms part of a dominantly transform boundary that is part of the southern margin to the North American Plate. It developed during the Eocene when the northern part of the Caribbean Plate collided with the Bahamas Platform, forcing the southern boundary to propagate southwards. This boundary initially formed as two strike-slip faults with a large left-stepping offset between them, generating a pull-apart basin. Continuing movement on the boundary and extension within the pull-apart led to the formation of an area of oceanic crust containing a north-south trending spreading center that remains active to the present day. It is an ultra-slow spreading center with an opening rate of 15–17 mm per year.When the spreading center formed, all the displacement on the Swan Islands Transform Fault was transferred by the Mid-Cayman Rise to the Septentrional-Oriente fault zone. During the Late Miocene, the leading edge of the Caribbean Plate began to collide with the Bahamas Platform. This led to the development of a new fault system, formed of the Walton fault zone and the Enriquillo–Plantain Garden fault zone, carrying some of the plate boundary displacement and creating the Gonâve Microplate. Eventually all the displacement on the plate boundary is expected to move onto the southern fault system as the microplate becomes accreted to the North American Plate, at which point the Mid-Cayman Rise will become extinct.

North American Plate

The North American Plate is a tectonic plate covering most of North America, Greenland, Cuba, the Bahamas, extreme northeastern Asia, and parts of Iceland and the Azores. With an area of 76,000,000 km2 (29,000,000 sq mi), it is the Earth's second largest tectonic plate, behind the Pacific Plate (which borders the plate to the west).

It extends eastward to the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and westward to the Chersky Range in eastern Siberia. The plate includes both continental and oceanic crust. The interior of the main continental landmass includes an extensive granitic core called a craton. Along most of the edges of this craton are fragments of crustal material called terranes, which are accreted to the craton by tectonic actions over a long span of time. It is thought that much of North America west of the Rocky Mountains is composed of such terranes.

Septentrional-Oriente fault zone

The Septentrional-Orient fault zone (SOFZ) is a system of active coaxial left lateral-moving strike slip faults that runs along the northern side of the island of Hispaniola where Haiti and the Dominican Republic are located and continues along the south of Cuba along the northern margin of the Cayman Trough. The SOFZ shares approximately half of the relative motion between the North American and Caribbean tectonic plates with the Enriquillo-Plantain Garden fault zone and Walton fault zone which run along the southern side of Hispaniola and aong the southern margin of the Cayman Trough. Both fault zones terminate at the Mid-Cayman Rise to the west. Some researchers believe that the Enriquillo-Plantain Garden fault zone and the SOFZ bound a microplate, dubbed the Gonâve Microplate, a 190,000 km2 (73,000 sq mi) area of the northern Caribbean Plate that is in the process of shearing off the Caribbean Plate and accreting to the North America Plate.A major tremor on this fault destroyed the city of Cap-Haïtien and other cities in the northern part of Haiti and the Dominican Republic on 7 May 1842.

Walton fault zone

The Walton fault zone is a major active left lateral (sinistral) strike-slip fault, forming part of the southern boundary to the Cayman Trough. It extends from the Mid-Cayman Rise spreading center in the west to Jamaica in the east. It has a total length of about 360 km and is formed of several sub-parallel strands. Together with the Enriquillo-Plantain Garden fault zone it forms the southern boundary of the Gonâve Microplate. It is associated with only moderate earthquakes with magnitudes of less than 6.



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