Haiti - Tectonic Plate Boundaries

Haiti - Tectonic Plate Boundaries Disasters Famous Historical Events Geography STEM World History

Haiti is located near the boundaries of two Tectonic Plates - the Caribbean and the North American - as noted in this drawing from the United States Geological Survey. 

The USGS also provides a description of the geological conditions, in Haiti, which gave rise to the January 12, 2010 earthquake:

The Haiti earthquake of January 12, 2010, occurred in the boundary region separating the Caribbean plate and the North America plate. This plate boundary is dominated by left-lateral strike slip and compression, and accommodates about 20 mm/y slip [meaning, slippage of 20 millimeters per year], with the Caribbean plate moving eastward with respect to the North America plate.

Haiti occupies the western part of the island of Hispaniola, one of the Greater Antilles islands, situated between Puerto Rico and Cuba.

At the longitude of the January 12 earthquake, motion between the two Caribbean and North American plates is partitioned between two major east-west trending, strike-slip fault systems - the Septentrional fault system in northern Haiti and the Enriquillo-Plaintain Garden fault system in southern Haiti.

IRIS—the Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology—reports that the earthquake occurred on a transform boundary. This means that the seismic event itself took place at a shallow depth:

The earthquake of January 12, 2010 occurred on the transform plate boundary between the Caribbean and North American plates. As expected for an earthquake on a transform boundary,  the depth of the event was quite shallow at about 10 km.

Click on the image for a better view.

Media Credits

Image online, courtesy United States Geological Survey.

Quoted passage online, courtesy USGS.


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