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Geophysical Research Letters

The synchronous occurrence of shallow tremor and very low frequency earthquakes offshore of the Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica

Authors

  • Jacob I. Walter,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, University of California, Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, California, USA
    • Now at School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Georgia, USA
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  • Susan Y. Schwartz,

    1. Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, University of California, Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, California, USA
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  • Marino Protti,

    1. Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico de Costa Rica, Universidad Nacional, Heredia, Costa Rica
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  • Victor Gonzalez

    1. Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico de Costa Rica, Universidad Nacional, Heredia, Costa Rica
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Corresponding author: J. I. Walter, School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA, USA. (jwalter@gatech.edu)

Abstract

[1] The occurrence of transient, shallow slow slip at seismogenic zones has important implications for earthquake and tsunami hazards. Here we provide evidence that a tremor and slow slip event occurred at shallow depth offshore of the Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica, in August 2008. The temporal coincidence of offshore tremor, very low frequency earthquakes (VLFEs), motions consistent with slow slip on the plate interface on western coastal GPS stations, and a pressure transient in an IODP borehole all indicate slow slip occurring at shallow depths. Large ocean loading stresses on the shallow plate interface modulate tremor activity, with the peak Coulomb stress forced by semi-diurnal ocean tides correlating with tremor productivity. Based on beamforming data, we constrain that the VLFE activity occurs in the same region as the tremor and slow slip. The presence of slow slip at shallow depth has important implications for the up-dip extent of earthquake rupture. The proximity of the 5 September 2012, Mw 7.6 megathrust earthquake to slow slip, tremor, and VLFE activity in the 2008 event suggests abrupt frictional transitions from locked to conditionally stable behavior on the plate interface offshore of the Nicoya Peninsula.

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