A new seismically constrained subduction interface model for Central America


We provide a detailed, seismically defined three-dimensional model for the subducting plate interface along the Middle America Trench between northern Nicaragua and southern Costa Rica. The model uses data from a weighted catalog of about 30,000 earthquake hypocenters compiled from nine catalogs to constrain the interface through a process we term the "maximum seismicity method." The method determines the average position of the largest cluster of microseismicity beneath an a priori functional surface above the interface. This technique is applied to all seismicity above 40 km depth, the approximate intersection of the hanging wall Mohorovičic discontinuity, where seismicity likely lies along the plate interface. Below this depth, an envelope above 90% of seismicity approximates the slab surface. Because of station proximity to the interface, this model provides highest precision along the interface beneath the Nicoya Peninsula of Costa Rica, an area where marked geometric changes coincide with crustal transitions and topography observed seaward of the trench. The new interface is useful for a number of geophysical studies that aim to understand subduction zone earthquake behavior and geodynamic and tectonic development of convergent plate boundaries.

Publication Title

Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth