Bulletin Volcanologique

, Volume 37, Issue 3, pp 304–325 | Cite as

Quaternary volcanic and tectonic segmentation of Central America

  • R. E. Stoiber
  • M. J. Carr


Central America is divided into seven segments based on differences in the strikes and positions of volcanic lineaments in the historically active volcanic chain. This block-like pattern is also seen in the contrasting volcano morphology, recent fault patterns and the distribution of shallow earthquakes. Discontinuities in the deep seismic zone can be identified at some segment margins.

The boundary areas between the segments are characterized by faulting transverse to the volcanic lineaments, frequently accompanied by basalt cinder cone fields, by concentrations of shallow earthquakes and by catastrophic historic eruptions. This volcanological, structural and seismological data can be explained by a segmented converging plate margin. At shallow depths the underthrust lithosphere is broken along tear faults into 100 to 300 km long segments. The separate segments descend into the mantle with different strikes and dips and give the geology its segmented character. Evidence for similar segmented converging plate margins is found in Mexico and in other parts of the circumpacific and alpine belts.


Boundary Area Active Volcano Volcanic Center Fault Scarp Shallow Earthquake 
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Copyright information

© Stabilimento Tipografico Francesco Gianni & Figli 1973

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. E. Stoiber
    • 1
  • M. J. Carr
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Earth SciencesDartmouth CollegeHanover

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