Neotectonic development of the El Salvador Fault Zone and implications for deformation in the Central America Volcanic Arc: Insights from 4-D analog modeling experiments

Thumbnail Image
Full text at PDC
Publication Date
Schreurs, Guido
Martínez Díaz, José J.
Villamor Pérez, María Pilar
Advisors (or tutors)
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Amercian Geophysical Union
Google Scholar
Research Projects
Organizational Units
Journal Issue
The El Salvador Fault Zone (ESFZ) is an active, approximately 150 km long and 20 km wide, segmented, dextral strike-slip fault zone within the Central American Volcanic Arc striking N100°E. Although several studies have investigated the surface expression of the ESFZ, little is known about its structure at depth and its kinematic evolution. Structural field data and mapping suggest a phase of extension, at some stage during the evolution of the ESFZ. This phase would explain dip-slip movements on structures that are currently associated with the active, dominantly strike slip and that do not fit with the current tectonic regime. Field observations suggest trenchward migration of the arc. Such an extension and trenchward migration of the volcanic arc could be related to slab rollback of the Cocos plate beneath the Chortis Block during the Miocene/Pliocene. We carried out 4-D analog model experiments to test whether an early phase of extension is required to form the present-day fault pattern in the ESFZ. Our experiments suggest that a two-phase tectonic evolution best explains the ESFZ: an early pure extensional phase linked to a segmented volcanic arc is necessary to form the main structures. This extensional phase is followed by a strike-slip dominated regime, which results in intersegment areas with local transtension and segments with almost pure strike-slip motion. The results of our experiments combined with field data along the Central American Volcanic Arc indicate that the slab rollback intensity beneath the Chortis Block is greater in Nicaragua and decreases westward to Guatemala.
UCM subjects
Unesco subjects