Lithospheric structure of Pampean Flat Slab (latitude 30-33°s) and Northern Costa Rica (latitude 9-11°n) Subduction Zones




tesis doctoral


Linkimer Abarca, Lepolt

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The Pampean flat slab subduction in west-central Argentina (latitude 30-33S) and the steeply dipping Northern Costa Rica subduction zone (latitude 9-11N) show significant along-trench variations in both the subducting and overriding plates. This dissertation contains the results of three seismological studies using broadband instruments conducted in these subduction zones, with the aim of understanding the structure of the lithosphere and the correlation between the variability observed in the downgoing and the overriding plates. In the Costa Rica region, by analyzing teleseismic receiver functions we investigate the variability in the hydration state of the subducting Cocos Plate and the nature of three distinct crustal terranes within the overriding Caribbean Plate: the Nicoya and Chorotega terranes that display an oceanic character, and the Mesquito Terrane, which is more compatible with continental crust.In the Pampean region of Argentina, we apply a regional-scale double-difference tomography algorithm to earthquake data recorded by the SIEMBRA (2007-2009) and ESP (2008-2010) broadband seismic networks to obtain high-resolution images of the South America lithosphere. We find that most of the upper mantle has seismic properties consistent with a depleted lherzolite or harzburgite, with two anomalous regions above the flat slab: a higher Vp/Vs ratio anomaly consistent with up to 10% hydration of mantle peridotite and a localized lower Vp/Vs ratio anomaly consistent with orthopyroxene enrichment. In addition, we study the geometry and brittle deformation of the subducting Nazca Plate by determining high-quality earthquake locations, slab contours, and focal mechanisms. Our results suggest that the subduction of the incoming Juan Fernandez Ridge controls the slab geometry and that ridge buoyancy and slab pull are key factors in the deformation of the slab. The spatial distribution of the slab seismicity suggests variability in the hydration state of the subducting Nazca Plate and/or in strain due to slab bending. These observations support the hypothesis that the along-trench variability in bathymetric features and hydration state of the incoming plate has profound effects in the subducting slab geometry and the upper plate structure in both flat and steeply dipping subduction zones.


Palabras clave

Subduction zone, Tomography, Geosciences, Earthquakes, Lithospheric structure