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Discussion papers
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 25 Mar 2019

Submitted as: research article | 25 Mar 2019

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This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences (NHESS).

CCAF-DB: The Caribbean and Central American Active Fault Database

Richard Styron1,2,3, Julio García-Pelaez1, and Marco Pagani1 Richard Styron et al.
  • 1Global Earthquake Model Foundation, Via Adolfo Ferrata 1, Pavia 27100 Italy
  • 2Earth Analysis, 21855 Bear Creek Road, Los Gatos, CA 95033 USA
  • 3Department of Geology, University of Kansas, Ritchie Hall, Earth Energy & Environment Center, 1414 Naismith Drive, Room 254, Lawrence, KS 66054 USA

Abstract. A database of ~250 active fault traces in the Caribbean and Central American regions has been assembled to characterize the seismic hazard and tectonics of the area, as part of the GEM Foundation's Caribbean and Central American Risk Assesment (CCARA) project. The dataset is available in many vector GIS formats, and contains fault trace locations as well as attributes describing fault geometry and kinematics, slip rates, data quality and uncertainty, and other metadata as available. The data is public and open-source (available at, will be updated progressively as new data is available, and is open to community contribution. The active fault data show deformation in the region to be centered around the margins of the Caribbean plate. Northern Central America has sinistral and reverse faults north of the sinistral Motagua-Polochic Fault Zone, which accommodates sinistral Caribbean-North American relative motion. The Central American Highlands extend east-west along a broad array of normal faults, bound by the Motagua-Polochic Fault Zone in the north and dextral faulting in the southwest between the Caribbean plate and the Central American forearc. Faulting in southern Central America is complicated, with trench-parallel reverse and sinistral faults. The northern Caribbean-North American plate boundary is sinistral offshore of Central America, with transpressive stepovers through Jamaica, southern Cuba and Hispaniola. Farther east, deformation becomes more contractional closer to the Lesser Antilles subduction zone, with minor extension and sinistral shear throughout the upper plate, accommodating oblique convergence of the Caribbean and North American plates.

Richard Styron et al.
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Richard Styron et al.
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GEM Central America and Caribbean Active Faults Database R. Styron, J. García-Pelaez, and M. Pagani

Richard Styron et al.
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Publications Copernicus
Short summary
The Caribbean and Central American region is both tectonically active and densely populated, leading to a large population that is exposed to earthquake hazards. Until now, no comprehensive fault data covering the region has been available. We present a new, public fault database for Central America and the Caribbean that synthesizes published studies with new mapping from remote sensing, to provide fault sources for the CCARA seismic hazard and risk analysis project and to aid future research.
The Caribbean and Central American region is both tectonically active and densely populated,...