Transtensional Rupture within a Diffuse Plate Boundary Zone during the 2020 Mw 6.4 Puerto Rico Earthquake

Renier Viltres*, Adriano Nobile, Hannes Vasyura-Bathke, Daniele Trippanera, Wenbin Xu, Sigurjón Jónsson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


On 7 January 2020, an Mw 6.4 earthquake occurred in the northeastern Caribbean, a few kilometers offshore of the island of Puerto Rico. It was the mainshock of a complex seismic sequence, characterized by a large number of energetic earthquakes illuminating an east–west elongated area along the southwestern coast of Puerto Rico. Deformation fields constrained by Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar and Global Navigation Satellite System data indicate that the coseismic movements affected only the western part of the island. To assess the mainshock’s source fault parameters, we combined the geodetically derived coseismic deformation with teleseismic waveforms using Bayesian inference. The results indicate a roughly east–west oriented fault, dipping northward and accommodating ∼1.4 m of transtensional motion. Besides, the determined location and orientation parameters suggest an offshore continuation of the recently mapped North Boquerón Bay–Punta Montalva fault in southwest Puerto Rico. This highlights the existence of unmapped faults with moderate-to-large earthquake potential within the Puerto Rico region.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)567-583
Number of pages17
JournalSeismological Research Letters
Issue number2A
StatePublished - Mar 1 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics


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