High density of structurally controlled, shallow to deep water fluid seep indicators imaged offshore Costa Rica


Jared W Kluesner, Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, University of California, Santa Cruz, CA, USA. (jwkluesne@ucsc.edu)


[1] We used high-resolution mapping to document 161 sites of potential fluid seepage on the shelf and slope regions where no geophysical seep indicators had been reported. Identified potential seabed seepage sites show both high-backscatter anomalies and bathymetric expressions, such as pockmarks, mounds, and ridges. Almost all identified seabed features are associated with bright spots and flat spots beneath, as mapped within the 3-D seismic grid. We obtained EM122 multi-beam data using closely spaced receiver beams and 4–5 times overlapping multi-beam swaths, which greatly improved the sounding density and geologic resolvability of the data. At least one location shows an acoustic plume in the water column on a 3.5 kHz profile, and this plume is located along a fault trace and above surface and subsurface seepage indicators. Fluid indicators are largely associated with folds and faults within the sediment section, and many of the faults continue into and offset the reflective basement. A dense pattern of normal faults is seen on the outer shelf in the multi-beam bathymetry, backscatter, and 3-D seismic data, and the majority of fluid seepage indicators lie along mapped fault traces. Furthermore, linear mounds, ridges, and pockmark chains are found on the upper, middle, and lower slope regions. The arcuate shape of the shelf edge, projection of the Quepos Ridge, and high density of potential seep sites suggest that this area may be a zone of former seamount/ridge subduction. These results demonstrate a much greater potential seep density and distribution than previously reported across the Costa Rican margin.