Sea-Floor Sunday #10: Puerto Rico Trench
UPDATE: Also see this post from December 2009 of higher-resolution bathymetric images from the same region.
I guess I’m feeling subductive this week (see Friday Field Foto #40). The bathymetric image for today is a perspective view (looking west) of the North American and Caribbean plate boundary focused on the northeast part of the Caribbean Plate.
The Puerto Rico Trench reaches water depths greater than 8 km making it the deepest part of the Atlantic Ocean (the Marianas Trench gets to 11 km in case you’re wondering). The North American Plate is subducting underneath Caribbean Plate. In the view above, the main subduction zone where the plate motions are more orthogonal are further south. This view is where the arc starts to curve around to the west.
This map below (found here) shows a simplified map of the region and the primary tectonic boundaries. The bathymetric image above is the area where it says Puerto Rico Trench in the northeastern part of the Caribbean Plate.
A few years ago I went to the conference ‘Backbone of the Americas’ in Mendoza, Argentina. The conference was focused on the tectonics of both North and South America. One of the best talks I saw was by Pindell about the Caribbean area. It is quite a messy area tectonically with many aspects not fully agreed upon (which is fun!).
To find out more, this page is GoogleScholar with Pindell as author. There’s tons of stuff there to check out.
See all Sea Floor Sunday posts here.