Seismic swarms, fluid flow and hydraulic conductivity in the forearc offshore North Costa Rica and Nicaragua

Thorwart, Martin, Dzierma, Yvonne, Rabbel, Wolfgang and Hensen, Christian (2014) Seismic swarms, fluid flow and hydraulic conductivity in the forearc offshore North Costa Rica and Nicaragua International Journal of Earth Sciences, 103 (7). pp. 1789-1799. DOI 10.1007/s00531-013-0960-y.

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Abstract

At the continental margin of north Costa Rica and Nicaragua, the strongly hydrated Cocos Plate subducts beneath the Caribbean Plate. From the downgoing Cocos plate fluids are released through extensional fractures in the overriding plate. At the seafloor, they form fluid seeps, mounds and other types of fluid expulsion. Using an offshore temporary seismic network, we investigated seismicity possibly related to these processes and observed several swarms of earthquakes located on the continental slope trenchward of the seismogenic zone of S Nicaragua. The seismicity occurred within the downgoing plate, near the plate interface and in the overriding plate. We interpret these swarm events as an expression of pore pressure propagation under critical stress conditions driven by fluid release from the downgoing plate. In order to estimate hydraulic diffusivity and permeability values, we applied a theory developed for injection test interpretation to the spatio-temporal development of the swarms. The resulting diffusivity and permeability values are in the ranges of 28–305 m²/s and 3.2 × 10−14 m²–35.1 × 10−14 m², respectively, applying to the continental and oceanic crust near the plate interface. These values are somewhat larger than observed in drill logs on the margin wedge off north Costa Rica, but of comparable magnitude to values estimated for the Antofagasta 1995 earthquake aftershock sequence.

Document Type: Article
Additional Information: WOS:000343216700005
Keywords: Central American subduction zone ; Earthquake swarms ; Diffusivity ; Permeability
Research affiliation: OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB2 Marine Biogeochemistry > FB2-MG Marine Geosystems
Kiel University
OceanRep > SFB 574
Refereed: Yes
DOI etc.: 10.1007/s00531-013-0960-y
ISSN: 1437-3254
Date Deposited: 08 Oct 2014 10:02
Last Modified: 23 May 2017 07:14
URI: http://eprints.uni-kiel.de/id/eprint/25718

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