Subduction Zone Science


Numerous tectonic plates meet in the Caribbean, some of which are converging and actively subducting. Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and other island, Central and South American countries sit atop this geologically complex system of interacting plates,  and all are affected by subduction directly or indirectly.

Filter Total Items: 16
Date published: June 4, 2021
Status: Active

Tsunami Hazards, Modeling, and the Sedimentary Record

Basic research to develop the geologic record of paleotsunamis and improve the ability to interpret that record is needed to mitigate tsunami risk in the U.S.

Date published: April 29, 2021
Status: Active

Probabilistic Forecasting of Earthquakes, Tsunamis, and Earthquake Effects in the Coastal Zone

The nation's coastlines are vulnerable to the interrelated hazards posed by earthquakes, landslides, and tsunamis. In the marine environment these events often occur in concert, and distant triggers can cause severe local effects, making the issue global in scope. As the population continues to migrate toward the coastlines, the social impacts of these hazards are expected to grow.

Date published: October 5, 2020
Status: Completed

SLAB2 - A Comprehensive Subduction Zone Geometry Model

Data for subduction zone slab geometry.

Attribution: Natural Hazards
Date published: July 15, 2020
Status: Active

Tsunami and Earthquake Research

Here you will find general information on the science behind tsunami generation, computer animations of tsunamis, and summaries of past field studies.

Contacts: Eric Geist
Date published: June 17, 2019
Status: Active

Caribbean Tsunami and Earthquake Hazards

Four million U.S. citizens live along the coastlines of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, an earthquake- and tsunami-prone active tectonic plate boundary. A tsunami generated at the subduction zone boundary offshore Puerto Rico could also affect the U.S. Atlantic coast.

Date published: November 12, 2018
Status: Completed

Collection of 3D Geometries of Global Subduction Zones

Release Date: NOVEMBER 12, 2018

A new picture of the geometry of subducting slabs around the world, the locations of the world’s largest earthquakes.

Date published: September 12, 2018
Status: Active

Significant Earthquakes on a major fault system in Hispaniola, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and the Lesser Antilles, 1500–2010: Implications for Seismic Hazard

Earthquakes have been documented in the northeastern Caribbean since the arrival of Columbus to the Americas; written accounts of these felt earthquakes exist in various parts of the world.  To better understand the earthquake cycle in the Caribbean, the records of earthquakes in earlier catalogs and historical documents from various archives, which are now available online, were critically...

Date published: August 22, 2018
Status: Active

Caribbean Tsunami and Earthquake Hazards Studies- Models

The Puerto Rico trench exhibits great water depth, extremely low gravity anomaly, and a tilted carbonate platform between (reconstructed) elevations of +1300 m and -4000 m. we suggest that these features are manifestations of large vertical movements of a segment of the Puerto Rico Trench, its forearc, and the island of Puerto Rico that took place 3.3 m.y. ago over a time period as short as 14...

Date published: August 22, 2018
Status: Active

Caribbean Tsunami and Earthquake Hazards Studies-Tsunami Potential

Newly-acquired multibeam bathymetry of the entire Puerto Rico trench reveals numerous retrograde slope failures at various scales at the edge of the carbonate platform north of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. The slumped material comprises carbonate blocks, which are cohesive and the edge of the carbonate platform is steeper than most continental slopes, resulting in a higher potential...

Date published: August 22, 2018
Status: Active

Caribbean Tsunami and Earthquake Hazards Studies- Stress Changes and Earthquake Hazard

Strike-slip faults in the forearc region of a subduction zone often present significant seismic hazard because of their proximity to population centers. We explore the interaction between thrust events on the subduction interface and strike-slip faults within the forearc region using 3-D models of static Coulomb stress change.