Geometric Aspects of the Full Moment Tensors in the Gulf of California and the Mexican East Pacific Rise

  • Roberto OrtegaEmail author
  • Luis Quintanar
  • Eduardo Huesca-Pérez
Part of the Pageoph Topical Volumes book series (PTV)


The East Pacific Rise (EPR) and the Gulf of California (GC) have different tectonic histories. While the EPR has been present for 75 Ma, the GC started only 12.5 Myr. The region that links both systems is the Tamayo Fracture Zone, where a diffuse triple junction is located. A key question to be solved is whether the source mechanisms in this region reflect important variations from the GC to the EPR. Therefore, we analyzed the seismic moment tensors of the GC and the EPR using a full moment tensor inversion. This source model is useful in extensional regimes where isotropic components or complex faults are present. The full moment tensor is the best representation of the fault and slip direction in a rifting process because it resolves for six free parameters, including complex sources of pure shear dislocations. The analysis is similar to the deviatoric case, but the interpretation is different, because physical characteristics in the model allow for choosing a realistic style of rupture. Our results show that there are similarities between focal mechanisms determined by full moment tensors computed for the southern part of the GC and the EPR. We suggest that the EPR is tectonically linked to the GC not only at the diffuse triple junction region but also along the entire province. The rupture patterns of the GC and the EPR are slightly different: whereas the GC is partitioned by means of NW–SE faults, the EPR ruptures through a faulting system NE–SW. The geometrical relations of the extensional province of the GC and the EPR were present since the crustal thinning of the rifting process. Strain partitioning of faults explains easily the nature of the oblique divergence of the GC and the EPR. In addition, in our analysis, we observe clockwise rotation in the structures of the southern part of the GC, suggesting that there is a change in the spatial partitioning of this region.


Earthquake source observations isotropic component transform faults Gulf of California full moment tensor 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Abercrombie, R.E., Antolik, M., and Ekstrom, G. (2003), The June 2000 Mw 7.9 Earthquakes South of Sumatra: Deformation in the India–Australia Plate, J. Geophys. Res. 108(B1), 1–16. doi: 10.1029/2001JB000674.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Adamova, P., and Sileny, J. (2010), Non-Double-Couple Earthquake Mechanism as an Artifact of the Point-Source Approach Applied to a Finite-Extent Focus, Bull. Seismol. Soc. Am. 100, 447–457. doi: 10.1785/0120090097.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Aki, K. (1984), Evidence for Magma Intrusion during the Mammoth Lakes Earthquakes of May 1980 and Implications of the Absence of Volcanic (Harmonic) Tremor, J. Geophys. Res. 89(B9), 7689–7696.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Aki, K., and Richards, P., Quantitative Seismology (University Science Books, Sausalito 2002).Google Scholar
  5. Angelier, J., Colletta, B., Chorowicz, J., Ortlieb, L., and Rangin, C. (1981), Fault Tectonics of the Baja California Peninsula and the Opening of the Sea of Cortez, Mexico, J. Struct. Geol. 3(4), 347–357. doi: 10.1016/0191-8141(81)90035-3.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Atwater, T. (1970), Implications of Plate Tectonics for the Cenozoic Tectonic Evolution of Western North America, Geol. Soc. Am. Bull. 81, 3513– 3536. doi: 10.1130/0016-7606(1970)81[3513:IOPTFT]2.0.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Atwater, T., and Stock, J. (1998), Pacific–North America Plate Tectonics of the Neogene Southwestern United States: An update, Int. Geol. Rev. 40, 375–402.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Axen, G.J., Grove, M., Stockli, D., Lovera, O.M., Rothstien, D.A., Fletcher, J.M., Farley, K., and Abbott, P.L. (2000), Thermal Evolution of Monte Blanco Dome: Low-Angle Normal Faulting during Gulf of California Rifting and Late Eocene Denudation of the Eastern Peninsular Ranges, Tectonics 19, 197–212.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bassin, C., Laske, G., and Masters, G. (2000), The Current Limits of Resolution for Surface Wave Tomography in North America, Eos Trans. AGU 81:F897Google Scholar
  10. Ben-Menahen, A., and Singh, S.J., Seismic Waves and Sources (Springer, New York 1981).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Ben-Zion, Y., and Ampuero, J.P. (2009), Seismic Radiation from Regions Sustaining Material Damage, Geophys. J. Int. 178, 1351–1356, doi: 10.1111/j.1365-246X.2009.04285.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Bohnenstiehl, D.R., and Dziak, R.P., Mid-ocean Ridge Seismicity, In Encyclopedia of Ocean Sciences, 2nd ed. (ed. Steele, J.H., Turekian, K.K., and Thorpe, S.A.) (Elsevier, Boston 2009) pp. 837–851.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Bohnenstiehl, D.R., Tolstoy, M., Dziak, R.P., Fox, C.G., and Smith, D.K. (2002), Aftershock Sequences in the Mid-ocean Ridge Environment: An Analysis Using Hydroacoustic Data, Tectonophysics 354(1–2), 49–70. doi: 10.1016/S0040-1951(02)00289-5.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Bowers, D., and Hudson, J.A. (1999), Defining the Scalar Moment of a Seismic Source with a General Moment Tensor, Bull. Seismol. Soc. Am. 89(5), 1390–1394.Google Scholar
  15. Brune, J.N., Brown, N.S., and Johnson, P.A. (1993), Rupture Mechanism and Interface Separation in Foam Rubber Models of Earthquakes: A Possible Solution to the Heat Flow Paradox and the Paradox of Large Overthrusts, Tectonophysics 218, 59–67.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Castro, R. R., A. Perez-Vertti, I. Mendez, A. Mendoza, and L. Inzunza (2010). Location of moderate-sized earthquakes recorded by the NARS-Baja Array in the Gulf of California region between 2002 and 2006, Pure Appl. Geophys. 168, no. 8–9, 1279–1292, doi: 10.1007/s00024-010-0177-y.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Castro, R.R., and Ben-Zion, Y. (2013), Potential Signatures of Damage-Related Radiation from Aftershocks of the 4 April 2010 (Mw 7.2) El Mayor–Cucapah Earthquake, Baja California, Bull. Seismol. Soc. Am. 103, 1130–1140. doi: 10.1785/0120120163.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Chapman, C.H., and Leaney, W.S. (2012), A New Moment Tensor Decomposition for Seismic Events in Anisotropic Media, Geophys. J. Int. 188, 343–370. doi: 10.1111/j1365-246X.2011.05265.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Clayton, R.W., Trampert, J., Rebollar, C.J., Ritsema, J., Persaud, P., Paulssen, H., Pérez-Campos, X., van Wettum, A., Pérez-Vertti, A. and F. Di Luccio (2004). The NARS-Baja Array in the Gulf of California Rift Zone, Margins Newsl. 13, 1–4.Google Scholar
  20. DeMets, C. (1995), A Reappraisal of Seafloor Spreading Lineations in the Gulf of California: Implications for the Transfer of Baja California to the Pacific Plate and Estimates of Pacific–North America Motion, Geophys. Res. Lett. 22(24), 3545–3548. doi: 10.1029/95GL03323.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Di Luccio, F., Persaud, P., and Clayton, R.W. (2014), Seismic Structure beneath the Gulf of California: A Contribution from Group Velocity Measurements, Geophys. J. Int. 199(3), 1861–1877.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Dorsey, R.J., and Umhoefer, P.J. (2000), Tectonic and Eustatic Controls on Sequence Stratigraphy of the Pliocene Loreto Basin, Baja California Sur, Mexico, Geol. Soc. Am. Bull. 112, 177–199.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Dreger, D.S., Tkalcic, H., and Johnston, P.A. (2000), Dilatational Processes Accompanying Earthquakes in the Long Valley Caldera, Science 288, 122–125.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Dufumier, H., and Rivera, L. (1997), On the Resolution of the Isotropic Component in Moment Tensor Inversion, Geophys. J. Int. 131, 595–606. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-246X.1997.tb06601.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Dziak, R.P., Bohnenstiehl, D.R., Matsumoto, H., Fowler, M.J., Haxel, J.H., Tolstoy, M., and Waldhauser, F. (2009), January 2006 Seafloor-Spreading Event at 9°50′N, East Pacific Rise: Ridge Dike Intrusion and Transform Fault Interactions from Regional Hydroacoustic Data, Geochem. Geophys. Geosyst. 10. doi: 10.1029/2009GC002388.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Engeln, J.F., Wiens, D.A., and Stein, S. (1986), Mechanisms and Depths of Atlantic Transform Earthquakes, J. Geophys. Res. 91, 548–577.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Fletcher, J., and Munguía, L. (2000), Active Continental Rifting in Southern Baja California, Mexico: Implications for Plate Motion Partitioning and the Transition to Seafloor Spreading in the Gulf of California, Tectonics 19, 1107–1123.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Fletcher, J.M., Grove, M., Kimbrough, D., Lovera, O., and Gehrels, G.E. (2007), Ridge-Trench Interactions and the Neogene Tectonic Evolution of the Magdalena Shelf and Southern Gulf of California: Insights from Detrital Zircon U-Pb Ages from the Magdalena Fan and Adjacent Areas, Geol. Soc. Am. Bull. 119, 1313–1336. doi: 10.1130/B26067.1.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Ford, S.R., Dreger, D.S., and Walter, W.R. (2009), Identifying Isotropic Events Using a Regional Moment Tensor Inversion, J. Geophys. Res. 114, B01306, 1–12, doi: 10.1029/2008JB005743.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Foulger, G., and Long, R.E. (1984), Anomalous Focal Mechanisms: Tensile Crack Formation on an Accreting Plate Boundary, Nature 310, 43–45.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Fox, C.G., Matsumoto, H., and Lauc, T.-K.A. (2001), Monitoring Pacific Ocean Seismicity from an Autonomous Hydrophone Array, J. Geophys. Res. 106(B3), 4183–4206. doi: 10.1029/2000JB900404.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Fukuyama, E., and Dreger, D. (2000), Performance Test of an Automated Moment Tensor Determination System for the Future “Tokai” Earthquake, Earth Planets Space 52, 383–392.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Goff, J.A., Bergman, E.A., and Solomon, S.C. (1987), Earthquake Source Mechanism and Transform Fault Tectonics in the Gulf of California, J. Geophys. Res. 92, 10485–10510.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Hara, T. (1996), Determination of the Isotropic Component of Deep Focus Earthquakes by Inversion of Normal-Mode Data, Geophys. J. Int. 127(2), 515–528.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Hauksson, E., Stock, J., Hutton, K., Yang, W., Vidal-Villegas, J.A., and Kanamori, H. (2010), The 2010 Mw 7.2 El Mayor-Cucapah Earthquake Sequence, Baja California, Mexico and Southernmost California, USA: Active Seismotectonics along the Mexican Pacific Margin, Pure Appl. Geophys. 168(8–9), 1255–1277.Google Scholar
  36. Hausback, B.P., Cenozoic Volcanic and Tectonic Evolution of Baja California Sur, Mexico, PhD thesis (University of California, Berkeley 1984).Google Scholar
  37. Herrmann, R. B. (2013), Computer programs in seismology: An evolving tool for instruction and research, Seism. Res. Lettr. 84, 1081-1088, doi: 10.1785/022011009 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Hudson, J.A., Pearce, R.G., and Rogers, R.M. (1989), Source Type Plot for Inversion of the Moment Tensor, J. Geophys. Res. 94(B1), 765–774.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Julian, B.R., and Sipkin, S.A. (1985), Earthquake Processes in the Long Valley Caldera Area, California, J. Geophys. Res. 90(B13), 11155–11169.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Kanamori, H. (1977), The Energy Release in Great Earthquakes, J. Geophys. Res. 82, 2981–2987. doi: 10.1029/JB082i020p02981.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Kawakatsu, H. (1991), Enigma of Earthquakes at Ridge-Transform-Fault Plate Boundaries: Distribution of Non-double Couple Parameter of Harvard CMT Solutions, Geophys. Res. Lett. 18(6), 1103–1106.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Knopoff, L., and Randall, M.J. (1970), The Compensated Linear Vector Dipole: A Possible Mechanism for Deep Earthquakes, J. Geophys. Res. 75, 4957–4963.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Křížová, D., Zahradník, J., and Kratzi, A. (2013), Resolvability of Isotropic Component in Regional Seismic Moment Tensor Inversion, Bull. Seismol. Soc. Am. 103, 2460–2473. doi: 10.1785/0120120097.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Lay, T., Ammon, C.J., Kanamori, H., Rivera, L., Koper, K.D., and Hutko, A.R. (2010), The 2009 Samoa-Tonga Great Earthquake Triggered Doublet, Nature 466, 964–968. doi: 10.1038/nature09214.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Lizarralde, D., Axen, G.J., Brown, H.E., Fletcher, J.M., González-Fernández, A., Harding, A.J., Holbrook, W.S., Kent, G.M., Paramo, P., Sutherland, F., and Umhoefer, P.J. (2007), Variation in Styles of Rifting in the Gulf of California, Nature 448, 466–469. doi: 10.1038/nature06035.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Lomnitz, C., Mooser, F., Allen, C.R., Brune, J.N., and Thatcher, W. (1970), Seismicity and Tectonics of the Northern Gulf of California Region, Mexico: Preliminary Results, Geof. Int. 10, 37–48.Google Scholar
  47. Lonsdale, P., (1989), Geology and tectonic history of the Gulf of California, in Winterer, E.L., et al., eds., The eastern Pacific Ocean and Hawaii: Boulder, Colorado, Geological Society of America, Geology of North America, v. N, p. 499–521.Google Scholar
  48. Martin-Barajas, A., Fletcher, J.M., Lopez-Martinez, M., and Mendoza Bornda, R. (2000), Waning Subduction and Arc Volcanism in Baja California: The San Luis Gonzaga Volcanic Field, Tectonophysics 318, 27–51.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Miller, A.D., Julian, B.R., and Foulger, G.R. (1998), Three Dimensional Seismic Structure and Moment Tensors of Non-double Couple Earthquakes at the Hengill-Gresdallur Volcanic Complex, Iceland, Geophys. J. Int. 133, 309–325.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Molnar, P. (1973), Fault Plane Solutions of Earthquakes and Direction of Motion in the Gulf of California and on the Rivera Fracture Zone, Geol. Soc. Am. Bull. 84, 1651–1658.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Mortimer, E., Gupta, S., and Cowie, P. (2005), Clinoform Nucleation and Growth in Coarse-Grained Deltas, Loreto Basin, Baja California Sur, Mexico: A Response to Episodic Accelerations in Fault Displacement, Basin Res. 17, 337–359. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2117.2005.00273.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Munguía, L.M., González, M., Mayer, S., and Aguirre, A. (2006), Seismicity and State of Stress in the La Paz–Los Cabos Region, Baja California Sur, Mexico, Bull. Seismol. Soc. Am. 96(2), 624–636. doi: 10.1785/0120050114.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Ortega, R., and Quintanar, L. (2010), Seismic Evidence of a Ridge-Parallel Strike Slip Fault off the Transform System in the Gulf of California, Geophys. Res. Lett. 37, L06301. doi: 10.1029/2009GL042208.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Ortega, R., Quintanar, L., and Rivera, L. (2013), Full Moment Tensor Variations and Isotropic Characteristics of Earthquakes in the Gulf of California Transform Fault System, Pure. Appl. Geophys. 171, 2805–2817. doi: 10.1007/s00024-013-0758-7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Pérez-Campos, X., and Clayton, R.W. (2013), Evidence of Upper-Mantle Processes Related to Continental Rifting versus Oceanic Crust in the Gulf of California, Geophys. J. Int. 194(2), 952–960.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Plattner, C., Malservisi, R., Dixon, T.H., LaFemina, P., Sella, G.F., Fletcher, J., and Suarez-Vidal, F. (2007), New Constraints on Relative Motion between the Pacific Plate and Baja California Microplate (Mexico) from GPS Measurements, Geophys. J. Int. 170(3), 1373–1380. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-246X.2007.03494.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Reichele, M., and Reid, I. (1977), Detailed Study of Earthquake Swarms from the Gulf of California, Bull. Seismol. Soc. Am. 67, 159–171.Google Scholar
  58. Reid, I., Reichele, M., Brune, J., and Bradner, H. (1973), Micro-earthquake Studies Using Sonobuoys: Preliminary Results from the Gulf of California, J. R. Astron. Soc. 34, 365–379.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Shi, Z., and Ben-Zion, Y. (2009), Seismic Radiation from Tensile and Shear Point Dislocations between Similar and Dissimilar Solids, Geophys. J. Int. 179, 444–458.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Stock, J.M., and Hodges, K.V. (1989), Pre-Pliocene Extension around the Gulf of California and the Transfer of Baja California to the Pacific Plate, Tectonics 8(1), 99–115. doi: 10.1029/TC008i001p00099.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Stock, J.M., and Lee, J. (1994), Do Microplates in Subduction Zones Leave a Geological Record?, Tectonics 13, 1472–1487.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Sumy, D.F., Gaherty, J.B., Won-Young, K., Diehl, T., and Collins, J.A. (2013), The Mechanisms of Earthquakes and Faulting in the Southern Gulf of California, Bull. Seismol. Soc. Am. 103, 487–506. doi: 10.1785/0120120080.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Sykes, L.R., Seismological Evidence for Transform Faults, Sea-floor Spreading and Continental Drift, In The History of the Earth’s Crust (ed. Phinney, X.) (Princeton University Press, Princeton 1968) pp. 120–150.Google Scholar
  64. Sykes, L. R., (1970), Focal mechanism solutions for earthquakes along the world rift system, Bull Seismol Soc Am 60, 1749–1752Google Scholar
  65. Thatcher, W., and Brune, J. (1971), Seismic Study of an Oceanic Ridge Earthquake Swarm in the Gulf of California, Geophys. J. R. Astron. Soc. 22, 473–489.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Trampert, J., Paulssen, H., vanWettum, A., Ritsema, J., Clayton, R., Castro, R., Rebollar, C., and Perez-Vertti, A. (2003), New Array Monitors Seismic Activity Near the Gulf of California in Mexico, Eos Trans. AGU 84, 29–32.Google Scholar
  67. Umhoefer, P.J., Mayer, L., and Dorsey, R.J. (2002), Evolution of the Margin of the Gulf of California Near Loreto, Baja California Peninsula, Mexico, Geol. Soc. Am. Bull. 114, 849–868. doi: 10.1130/0016-7606(2002)114<0849:EOTMOT>2.0.CO;2.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Umhoefer, P.J., Sutherland, F., Kent, G., Harding, A., Lizarralde, D., Schwennicke, T., Fletcher, J., Holbrook, W.S., and Axen, G. (2008), Synchronous Changes in Rift-Margin Basins and Initiation of the Alarcón Spreading Ridge and Related Transform Fault, Southwestern Gulf of California, Geol. Soc. Am. Abstr. Prog. 40(6), 151.Google Scholar
  69. Vavryčuk, V. (2004), Inversion for Anisotropy from Non-Double-Couple Components of Moment Tensors, J. Geophys. Res. 109, B07306, doi: 10.1029/2003JB002926.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Wei, S., Fielding, E., Leprince, S., Sladen, A., Avouac, J.P., Helmberger, D., Hauksson, E., Chu, R., Simons, M., Hudnut, K., Herring, T., and Briggs, R. (2011), Superficial Simplicity of the 2010 El Mayor–Cucapah Earthquake of Baja California in Mexico, Nat. Geosci. 4, 615–618. doi: 10.1038/ngeo1213.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Wolfe, C., Bergman, E., and Solomon, S. (1993), Oceanic Transform Earthquakes with Unusual Mechanisms or Locations: Relation to Fault Geometry and State of Stress in Adjacent Lithosphere, J. Geophys. Res. 98(B9), 16187–16211.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Roberto Ortega
    • 1
    Email author
  • Luis Quintanar
    • 2
  • Eduardo Huesca-Pérez
    • 3
  1. 1.Centro de Investigación Científica y de Educación Superior de EnsenadaLa PazMexico
  2. 2.Instituto de GeofísicaUniversidad Nacional Autónoma de MéxicoCoyoacánMexico
  3. 3.CONACYT Research FellowCentro de Investigación Científica y de Educación Superior de EnsenadaLa PazMexico

Personalised recommendations