Influence of the Mendocino triple junction on the tectonics of coastal California

Kevin P. Furlong, Susan Y. Schwartz

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

86 Scopus citations


The migration of the Mendocino triple junction through central and northern California over the past 25-30 million years has led to a profound change in plate interactions along coastal California. The tectonic consequences of the abrupt change from subduction plate interactions north of the triple junction to the development of the San Andreas transform system south of the triple junction can be seen in the geologic record and geophysical observations. The primary driver of this tectonism is a coupling among the subducting Juan de Fuca (Gorda), North American, and Pacific plates that migrates with the triple junction. This coupling leads to ephemeral thickening of the overlying North American crust, associated uplift and subsequent subsidence, and a distinctive sequence of fault development and volcanism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)403-433
Number of pages31
JournalAnnual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences
StatePublished - 2004

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science


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