The cape was named in the 1540s. The name honors Antonio de Mendoza. He was the Viceroy of New Spain.
This It has been known as a landmark since the 16th century. Spanish ships crossed the Pacific Ocean by following the Pacific trade winds. The North Equatorial Current brought them to the North American coastline. After landfall, the Manila galleons would sail down the coast to Acapulco in Mexico.
The Cape Mendocino region is an active earthquake zone. In April 1992, three big earthquakes were centered near the cape.
The Mendocino Triple Junction is to the west of Cape Mendocino under the Pacific Ocean. It is a geologic triple junction where three tectonic plates come together. The San Andreas Fault, a transform boundary, runs south from the junction, separating the Pacific Plate and the North American Plate. To the north is the Cascadia subduction zone, where the Gorda Plate is being subducted under the edge of the North American plate. Running west from the triple junction is the Mendocino Fracture Zone, the transform boundary between the Gorda Plate and the Pacific Plate.
- The cape is not in Mendocino County, California which is south of it.
- Hoover, Mildred Brooke and Douglas E. Kyle. (2002). Historic Spots in California, p. 101.
- University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB), "The Spanish Empire, the Manila Galleon and the Settlement of California: A Historical Essay," p. 2; retrieved 2011-11-17
- "Oregon History: Some Came by Sea"; retrieved 2011-11-17.
- Honda, Henry K. "The Sendai Connection," Facific Citizen. April 1, 2011; retrieved 2011-11-17.
- Nussbaum, Louis-Frédéric. (2002). "Hasekura Tsunenaga" in Japan Encyclopedia, p. 293.
- United States Geological Survey (USGS), Cape Mendocino
- United States Geological Survey (USGS), M7.2 – Cape Mendocino, 1992
- Bruke Museum, Cascadia tectonic history with map