Exploring the Tectonic Stability of the Yucatan Peninsula

Presented at the AGU Virtual Poster Showcase, 2018.

The Yucatán Peninsula is the subaerial portion of a carbonate platform deposited over the structural entity of the Yucatán Block (YB), a 450,000 km2 continental microplate covering southeast Mexico, northern Guatemala, and Belize. It has been understood to be broadly tectonically stable, while on a broader timescale it has been interpreted to be subsiding since middle to late Eocene. Now using geodetic data from UNAVCO (DAI v2) for stations within PBO, COCONet, and TLALOCnet we explore the current YB motion to evaluate its tectonic motions. Compilations of data in using the IGS08 reference frame, shows current motion with respect to the Earth’s core to be in the NW direction along with NE corner submersion. The 10+ years of data indicate vertical rates on the order of 1 mm/year, which is of significance in interpretations of the hydrogeology, speleogenesis, paleoclimate records, and adaptation to climate change driven sea level rise. We argue for persistence of the measured vertical motions at least to the mid-Holocene based on coastal geomorphology, ecology, and archeological observations. The present vertical rates are 3-orders of magnitude faster than the previously indicated subsidence. The YB is tectonically stable in the strict sense, without apparent deformation or rifting, yet the block is arguable in tilt / subsistence motions that are of broad significance.

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Emiliano Monroy-Ríos