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Regional Seismic Reflection Profiles Across the Middle America Trench and Convergent Margin of Costa Rica

By
J.C. Crowe
J.C. Crowe
University of Texas at Austin, Institute for Geophysics
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R.T. Buffler
R.T. Buffler
University of Texas at Austin, Institute for Geophysics
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Published:
January 01, 1983

Abstract

During 1977 and 1978, the University of Texas Institute for Geophysics acquired approximately 1,200 km (746 mi) of marine multichannel CDP seismic reflection profiles, both landward and seaward of the Middle America Trench off Costa Rica's Pacific margin. The Costa Rica survey is part of a larger comparative geological and geophysical study of the entire (Middle America) subduction-type convergent margin and trench from southern Mexico to Panama, designed to investigate margin and trench structural style, sedimentation patterns and tectonic processes. The bathymetry for offshore Costa Rica, and a detailed multichannel track chart are shown in Figures 1 and 2. The grid of reflection profiles, designated Costa Rica (CR) 1-9, and Nicoya Peninsula (NCY) 1-8, provide regional coverage of Costa Rica's shelf, slope, trench floor, and seaward deep ocean basin.

From a global data set comprised of spreading rates, transform fault azimuths, and earthquake slip vectors, Minster and Jordan (1978) used systematic inversion methods to model present-day plate motions, and concluded that the Middle America Trench is a convergent plate boundary. Subduction of the Cocos Plate beneath Costa Rica (Caribbean Plate) presently occurs along an azimuth of N30°E±2 at a velocity of 9.4±0.3 cm/yr (3.7±0.1 in/yr) (McNally and Minster, 1981; Minster and Jordan, 1978; see also Molnar and Sykes, 1969).

A late Oligocene-early Miocene age for the Cocos Plate oceanic crust in the study area is supported by analysis of sea floor magnetic anomalies (e.g., Hey 1977; Hey et al, 1977), and DSDP drilling off Guatemala (von Huene et al, 1980) and the Cocos Ridge (Heath and van Andel, 1973). Up to 0.7 km (0.4 mi) of sedimentary strata overlying oceanic crust are observed on the study area reflection profiles. DSDP drilling on the Cocos Plate 22 km (13.7 mi) seaward of the trench off Guatemala recovered similar oceanic sediments. The pelagic and hemipelagic depositional sequences (DSDP Site 495) document the northeastward migration of the Cocos Plate away from the Pacific-Cocos-Nazca triple junction, through the equatorial carbonate belt and zone of high organic productivity (at or near CCD), and finally into proximity of hemipelagic/terrigenous sedimentation (e.g., the Central American margin), since the late Oligocene-early Miocene (von Huene et al, 1980).

The onland geology of Costa Rica has been the subject of numerous investigations (Dengo, 1962; Weyl, 1980). Some of the more recent papers that focus specifically on the Nicoya Peninsula of Costa Rica include de Boer (1979), Galli-Oliver (1979), Kuijpers (1980), Schmidt-Effing et al (1981), and Lundberg (1982). In addition, profile CR-7 is discussed in detail in a recent paper concerning variations in tectonic and structural style along the entire Middle America Trench (Shipley et al, 1982).

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Contents

AAPG Studies in Geology

Seismic Expression of Structural Styles: A Picture and Work Atlas. Volume 1–The Layered Earth, Volume 2–Tectonics Of Extensional Provinces, & Volume 3–Tectonics Of Compressional Provinces

A. W. Bally
A. W. Bally
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American Association of Petroleum Geologists
Volume
15
ISBN electronic:
9781629810188
Publication date:
January 01, 1983

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