Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Abstract In March and April 1995 a cooperative German, Costa Rican, and United States research team recorded onshore-offshore seismic data sets along the Pacific margin of Costa Rica using the R/V Ewing. Off the Nicoya Peninsula we used a linear array of ocean bottom seismometers and hydrophones (OBS/H) with onshore seismometers extending across much of the isthmus. In the central area we deployed an OBS/H areal array consisting of 30 instruments over a 9 km by 35-km area and had land stations on the Nicoya Peninsula adjacent to this marine array and also extending northeast on the main Costa Rican landmass. Our goal in these experiments was to determine the crustal velocity structure along different portions of this convergent margin and to use the dense instrument deployments to create migrated reflection images of the plate boundary zone and the subducting Cocos Plate. Our specific goal in the central area was to determine whether a subducted seamount is present at the location of the 1990, M 7 earthquake off the Nicoya Peninsula and can thus be linked to its nucleation. Subsequently we have processed the data to improve reflection signals, used the data to calculate crustal velocity models, and developed several wide-aperture migration techniques, based on a Kirchhoff algorithm, to produce reflection images. Along the northern transect we used the ocean bottom data to construct a detailed crustal velocity model, but reflections from the plate boundary and top and bottom of the subducting Cocos plate are difficult to identify and have so far produced poor images. In contrast, the land stations along this same transect recorded clear reflections from the top of the subducting plate or plate boundary, within the seismogenic zone, and we have constructed a clear image from this reflector beneath the Nicoya shelf. Data from the 3-D seismic experiment suffer from high-amplitude, coherent noise (arrivals other than reflections), and we have tried many techniques to enhance the signal to noise ratio of reflected arrivals. Due to the noise, an apparent lack of strong reflections from the plate boundary zone, and probable structural complexity, the resulting 3-D images only poorly resolve the top of the subducting Cocos Plate. The images are not able to provide compelling evidence of whether there is a subducting seamount at the 1990 earthquake hypocenter. Our results do show that OBS surveys are capable of creating images of the plate boundary zone and the subducting plate well into the seismogenic zone if coherent reflections are recorded at 1.8 km instrument spacing (2-D) and 5 km inline by 1 km crossline spacing for 3-D acquisition. However, due to typical high amplitude coherent noise, imaging results may be poorer than expected, especially in unfavorable geologic settings such as our 3-D survey area. More effective noise reduction in acquisition, possibly with the use of vertical hydrophone arrays, and in processing, with advanced multiple removal and possibly depth filtering, is required to achieve the desired detailed images of the seismogenic plate boundary zone.
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