National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce


FY 1993

The Cape Mendocino, California, earthquakes of April 1992: Subduction at the Triple Junction

Oppenheimer, D., G. Beroza, G. Carver, L. Dengler, J. Eaton, L. Gee, F. González, A. Jayko, W.H. Li, M. Lisowski, M. Magee, G. Marshall, M. Murray, R. McPherson, B. Romanowicz, K. Satake, R. Simpson, P. Somerville, R. Stein, and D. Valentine

Science, 261(5120), 433–438, doi: 10.1126/science.261.5120.433 (1993)

The 25 April 1992 magnitude 7.1 Cape Mendocino thrust earthquake demonstrated that the North America-Gorda plate boundary is seismogenic and illustrated hazards that could result from much larger earthquakes forecast for the Cascadia region. The shock occurred just north of the Mendocino Triple Junction and caused strong ground motion and moderate damage in the immediate area. Rupture initiated onshore at a depth of 10.5 kilometers and propagated up-dip and seaward. Slip on steep faults in the Gorda plate generated two magnitude 6.6 aftershocks on 26 April. The main shock did not produce surface rupture on land but caused coastal uplift and a tsunami. The emerging picture of seismicity and faulting at the triple junction suggests that the region is likely to continue experiencing significant seismicity.

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