The relatively narrow trough trends east-northeast to west-southwest and has a maximum depth of 7,686 metres (25,217 ft). Within the trough is a slowly spreading north-south ridge which may be the result of an offset or gap of approximately 420 kilometres (260 mi) along the main fault trace. The Cayman spreading ridge shows a long-term opening rate of 11–12 mm/yr. The eastern section of the trough has been named the Gonâve Microplate. The Gonâve plate extends from the spreading ridge east to the island of Hispaniola. It is bounded on the north by the Oriente and Septentrional fault zones. On the south the Gonâve is bounded by the Walton fault, the Jamaica restraining bend and the Enriquillo-Plantain Garden fault zone. The two bounding strike slip fault zones are left lateral. The motion relative to the North American Plate is 11 mm/yr to the east and the motion relative to the Caribbean Plate is 8 mm/yr.
In 2010 a UK team from the National Oceanography Centre in Southampton (NOCS), equipped with an autonomously controlled, robot submarine, began mapping the full extent of the trench and discovered black smokers on the ocean floor at a depth of 5 km (3.1 mi), the deepest yet found. In January 2012, the researchers announced that water exits the vents at a temperature possibly exceeding 450 °C (842 °F), making them among the hottest known undersea vents. They also announced the discovery of new species, including an eyeless shrimp with a light-sensing organ on its back.
^Einsele, Gerhard (2000). Sedimentary Basins: Evolution, Facies, and Sediment Budget (2nd ed.). Springer. p. 630. ISBN978-3-540-66193-1.
^ abDeMets, C.; Wiggins-Grandison, M. (2007). "Deformation of Jamaica and motion of the Gonâve microplate from GPS and seismic data". Geophys. J. Int.168: 375–6. doi:10.1111/j.1365-246x.2006.03236.x.
^Sigurdsson, H, S. Kelley, R.M. Leckie, S. Carey, T. Bralower, and J. King (2000). "Chapter 20: History of circum-Caribbean explosive volcanism: 40Ar/39Ar dating of tephra layers". In Leckie, R.M., Sigurdsson, H., Acton, G.D., and Draper, G. Sci. Results. Proc. ODP 165. College Station, Texas: Ocean Drilling Program. doi:10.2973/odp.proc.sr.165.2000. ISSN1096-7451.|accessdate= requires |url= (help)
Goreau, P. D. E. 1983 Tectonic Evolution of the North Central Caribbean Plate Margin. Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, MA.; Massachusetts Inst. of Tech., Cambridge. Sponsor: National Science Foundation, Washington, DC. Sep 1983. 248p. Report: WHOI-83-34.
Ten Brink, Uri S., et al., 2001, Asymmetric seafloor spreading: crustal thickness variations and transitional crust in Cayman Trough from gravity", GSA Meeting Abstract
Roberts, H. H. 1994 Reefs and lagoons of Grand Cayman Monographiae biologicae (Brunt, MA; Davies, JE eds). Kluwer Academic Publishers, Boston, Ma The Hague. ISBN 0-7923-2462-5
Scotese, Christopher R. 1999. Evolution of the Caribbean Sea (100 mya - Present) Collision of Cuba with Florida Platform and Opening of the Cayman Trough. PALEOMAP Project http://www.scotese.com/caribanim.htm