Azores triple junction
Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Abstract The studies of Azores seismicity generally show shocks with either normal faulting or right-lateral strike-slip along the ESE direction, compatible with a eastward relative motion of the Eurasian (EU) relative to the African (AF) plate. However, the 1 January 1980 earthquake was interpreted as a clear left-lateral strike-slip shock along the N150E direction. This pattern is difficult to explain in terms of the relative motion between the EU, AF and North American (NA) plates: all available models for the present day movement of this triple junction fail to explain the regional variability in the stress conditions of the area. Here we present data from a 34-day long Ocean Bottom Seismograph array deployment. We show that the seismicity is distributed along a band aligned with the island chain itself, and is concentrated along several faults with an approximate N150E strike, cutting the Azores plateau in all the area covered by the OBS network. The combination of these new results with other geophysical data permits us to conclude that the tectonic setting of the Azores plateau is characterised by the existence of two sets of faults, in the N120E and N150E directions, defining several crustal blocks, whose relative motion accommodates the interaction of the three megaplates. The deformation of these tectonic blocks is probably driven by the shear between the EU and AF plates. This model explains well the spatial variability of the stress conditions in the Azores domain, the combination of dextral and sinistral strike slip mechanisms and the observed seismotectonics of the Azores islands.
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