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Open-File Report 2010-1083-F

Seismicity of the Earth 1900–2010 Mexico and Vicinity

Compiled by Harley M. Benz,1 Richard L. Dart,1 Antonio Villaseñor,3 Gavin P. Hayes,1 Arthur C. Tarr,1 Kevin P. Furlong,2 and Susan Rhea1

1U.S. Geological Survey
2Department of Geosciences, Pennsylvania State University, State College, PA 16802 USA
3Institute of Earth Sciences, CSIC, Barcelona, Spain

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Located atop three of the large tectonic plates, Mexico is one of the world's most seismologically active regions. The relative motion of these crustal plates causes frequent earthquakes and occasional volcanic eruptions.

Most of the Mexican landmass is on the westward moving North American plate. The Pacific Ocean floor south of Mexico is being carried northeastward by the underlying Cocos plate. Because oceanic crust is relatively dense, when the Pacific Ocean floor encounters the lighter continental crust of the Mexican landmass, the ocean floor is subducted beneath the North American plate creating the deep Middle American trench along Mexico's southern coast. Also as a result of this convergence, the westward moving Mexico landmass is slowed and crumpled creating the mountain ranges of southern Mexico and earthquakes near Mexico's southern coast. As the oceanic crust is pulled downward, it melts; the molten material is then forced upward through weaknesses in the overlying continental crust. This process has created a region of volcanoes across south-central Mexico known as the Cordillera Neovolcánica.

Revised September 2011
First posted April 5, 2011

For additional information contact:

USGS Geologic Hazards
Box 25046, MS-966
Denver Federal Center
Denver, CO 80225-0046

http://geohazards.cr.usgs.gov/

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Suggested citation:

Benz, H.M., Dart, R.L., Villaseñor, Antonio, Hayes, G.P., Tarr, A.C., Furlong, K.P., and Rhea, Susan, 2011, Seismicity of the Earth 1900–2010 Mexico and vicinity: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2010–1083-F, scale 1:8,000,000.



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