A Caltech Library Service

Microcontinent Breakup and Links to Possible Plate Boundary Reorganization in the Northern Gulf of California, México

Higa, Justin T. and Brown, Nathan D. and Moon, Seulgi and Stock, Joann M. and Sabbeth, Leah and Bennett, Scott E. K. and Martín-Barajas, Arturo and Argueta, Marina O. (2022) Microcontinent Breakup and Links to Possible Plate Boundary Reorganization in the Northern Gulf of California, México. Tectonics, 41 (1). Art. No. e2021TC006933. ISSN 0278-7407. doi:10.1029/2021tc006933.

[img] PDF - Accepted Version
See Usage Policy.

[img] PDF - Supplemental Material
See Usage Policy.


Use this Persistent URL to link to this item:


Faults on microcontinents record the dynamic evolution of plate boundaries. However, most microcontinents are submarine and difficult to study. Here, we show that the southern part of the Isla Ángel de la Guarda (IAG) microcontinent, in the northern Gulf of California rift, is densely faulted by a late Quaternary-active normal fault zone. To characterize the onshore kinematics of this Almeja fault zone, we integrated remote fault mapping using high-resolution satellite- and drone-based topography with neotectonic field-mapping. We produced 13 luminescence ages from sediment deposits offset or impounded by faults to constrain the timing of fault offsets. We found that north-striking normal faults in the Almeja fault zone continue offshore to the south and likely into the nascent North Salsipuedes basin southwest of IAG. Late Pleistocene and Holocene luminescence ages indicate that the most recent onshore fault activity occurred in the last ∼50 kyr. These observations suggest that the North Salsipuedes basin is kinematically linked with and continues onshore as the active Almeja fault zone. We suggest that fragmentation of the evolving IAG microcontinent may not yet be complete and that the Pacific-North America plate boundary is either not fully localized onto the Ballenas transform fault and Lower Delfin pull-apart basin or is in the initial stage of a plate boundary reorganization.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription ItemData
Higa, Justin T.0000-0001-8688-9645
Brown, Nathan D.0000-0002-7385-8679
Moon, Seulgi0000-0001-5207-1781
Stock, Joann M.0000-0003-4816-7865
Sabbeth, Leah0000-0001-6615-7949
Bennett, Scott E. K.0000-0002-9772-4122
Martín-Barajas, Arturo0000-0003-0338-8154
Argueta, Marina O.0000-0002-3403-2620
Additional Information:© 2022. American Geophysical Union. Issue Online: 24 January 2022; Version of Record online: 24 January 2022; Accepted manuscript online: 13 January 2022; Manuscript accepted: 15 December 2021; Manuscript revised: 22 October 2021; Manuscript received: 04 June 2021. We thank the Secretaría de Gobernación and SEMARNAT for permits, J. Lin and M. Say for fieldwork, R. Arce, M. Camacho, and I. Covarrubias Rodreguez for boat transportation, C. Athanassas, M. Darin, M. Diggles, M. Oskin, K. Scharer, one anonymous reviewer, and editors L. Giambiagi and M. Rusmore for thorough reviews, and X. Ding, H. Kirkpatrick, C. Kitamikado, B. Kuhasubpasin, S. Saha, and K. Shao for discussion. Support provided by NSF EAR-1728145 to Moon and EAR-1728690 to Stock, CONACYT 2014242561 to Martín-Barajas, National Aeronautics and Space Administration contract 80NM0018D0004 to Sabbeth at Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, and the U.S. Geological Survey's National Cooperative Geologic Mapping Program to Bennett. Any use of trade, product, or firm names is for descriptive purposes only and does not imply endorsement by the U.S. Government. Data Availability Statement: Topography and luminescence data produced here are available at the UCLA Dataverse repository (
Group:Seismological Laboratory
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología (CONACYT)2014242561
Subject Keywords:remote mapping; optically stimulated luminescence; non-marine terrace; tectonic geomorphology; continental rifting; linear scarp diffusion
Issue or Number:1
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20220203-136695400
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Higa, J. T., Brown, N. D., Moon, S., Stock, J. M., Sabbeth, L., Bennett, S. E. K., et al. (2022). Microcontinent breakup and links to possible plate boundary reorganization in the northern Gulf of California, México. Tectonics, 41, e2021TC006933.
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:113238
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:03 Feb 2022 17:09
Last Modified:03 Feb 2022 17:09

Repository Staff Only: item control page