Triggered seismicity associated with the 1990 Nicoya, Costa Rica, Mw = 7.0 earthquake

Authors


Abstract

[1] The 25 March 1990 (Mw = 7.0) subduction megathrust earthquake that occurred offshore the Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica, produced a large number of aftershocks on the subduction plate interface as expected and preceded an unusual sequence of earthquakes 75 km inland that had two periods of significant increase, one at 60–90 days and one near 270 days, following the main shock. This inland sequence of events would not typically fall within the classification of aftershocks given their spatial and temporal distance, and we show here that this sequence was likely triggered by the 25 March main shock. We compute stress changes on representative faults within this inland region using both a simple half-space model as well as with a 2-D finite element model that incorporates variable rheologic properties. The half-space model predicts a minor increase in Coulomb stress changes and a large amount of unclamping in this region, likely enough to cause triggering on the inland right-lateral strike-slip faults. Models that include a viscoelastic response also indicate stress increases that may link to triggering, particularly related to the time delay. Earthquakes on the subduction zone thrust along Costa Rica should be considered in hazard assessments for the inland populated region as several sets of strike-slip faults have been mapped in the fore-arc region.