Understanding the links between subducting slabs and upper-plate deformation is a longstanding goal in the field of tectonics. New 3D seismic sequence stratigraphy, mapped within the Costa Rica Seismogenesis Project (CRISP) seismic-reflection volume offshore southern Costa Rica, spatiotemporally constrains several Pleistocene outer forearc processes and provides clearer connections to subducting plate dynamics. Three significant shelf and/or slope erosional events at ca. 2.5–2.3 Ma, 1.95–1.78 Ma, and 1.78–1.19 Ma, each with notable differences in spatial extent, volume removed, and subsequent margin response, caused abrupt shifts in sedimentation patterns and rates. These shifts, coupled with observed deformation, suggest three primary mechanisms for Pleistocene shelf and slope vertical motions: (1) regional subaerial erosion and rapid subsidence linked to the southeastward Panama Fracture Zone triple-junction migration, with associated abrupt bathymetric variations and plate kinematic changes; (2) transient, kilometer-scale uplift and subsidence due to inferred subducting plate topography; and (3) progressive outer wedge shortening accommodated by landward- and seaward-dipping thrust faults and fold development due to the impinging Cocos Ridge. Furthermore, we find that the present-day wedge geometry (to within ∼3 km along strike) has been maintained through the Pleistocene, in contrast to modeled landward margin retreat. We also observe that deformation, i.e., extension and shortening, is decoupled from net margin subsidence. Our findings do not require basal erosion, and they suggest that the vertical motions of the Costa Rican outer forearc are not the result of a particular continuous process, but rather are a summation of plate to plate changes (e.g., passage of a fracture zone triple junction) and episodic events (e.g., subducting plate topography).
Additional publication details
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Title||Pleistocene vertical motions of the Costa Rican outer forearc from subducting topography and a migrating fracture zone triple junction|
|Publisher||The Geological Society of America|
|Contributing office(s)||Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center|