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Offshore of the Pacific side of Costa Rica, the Caribbean plate converges with the subducting Cocos plate along the Middle America Trench. The tectonics of both plates, from the Cocos Ridge to the Nicoya Peninsula, were studied with swathmapping, magnetic anomalies, and samples. Three morphological domains on the Cocos plate were defined by mapping. The broadly arched Cocos Ridge forms the southeastern domain. Adjacent to the northwest flank of Cocos Ridge is a domain where seamounts and their aprons cover about 40% of the ocean floor. Farther northwest, a sharp juncture in the oceanic crust separates the seamount domain from a deep sea plain. These three contrasting oceanic seafloor morphologies are mimicked in the morphology of the Pacific continental margin of Costa Rica. Opposite the subducting Cocos Ridge are a broad continental shelf and Osa Peninsula, which are attributed to large-scale domal uplift. Where the seamount domain has been subducted, a rugged continental slope has developed, including 55-km-long furrows trending parallel to the Cocos-Caribbean interplate convergence direction. We propose that the furrows represent paths of disruption produced by subducting seamounts. Where the smooth deep sea plain has been subducted, a well-organized accretionary prism covered by slope deposits forms a relatively smooth morphology. The Costa Rican margin illustrates the effects of subducting seafloor morphology on the continental margin structure and morphology.

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