We use new models for present-day Pacific-North America motion to evaluate the tectonics of offshore regions west of the Californias. Vandenburg in coastal Alta California moves at the Pacific plate velocity within uncertainties (∼1 mm/yr) after correcting for strain accumulation on the San Andreas and San Gregorio-Hosgri faults with a model that includes a viscoelastic lower crust. Modeled and measured velocities at coastal sites in Baja California south of the Agua Blanca fault, a region that most previous models consider Pacific plate, differ by 3-8 mm/yr, with coastal sites moving slower that the Pacific plate. We interpret these discrepancies in terms of strain accumulation on known on-shore faults, combined with right lateral slip at a rate of 3-4 mm/yr on additional faults offshore peninsular Baja California in the Pacific. Offshore seismicity, offset Quaternary features along the west coast of Baja California, and a discrepancy between the magnetically determined spreading rate in the Gulf Rise and the total plate rate from a geological model provide independent evidence for a "Baja California shear zone".
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)