Pore fluid pressure detection within the plate boundary fault interface of the Costa Rica convergent margin using AVO attributes
I conducted an amplitude vs. offset (AVO) analysis on newly acquired 3D seismic reflection data to detect elevated pore fluid content and pore fluid pressure along the Costa Rica convergent margin to address dewatering processes of subduction zone sediments. These data provide the highest quality 3D seismic data acquired to date along a convergent margin for detailed analysis of geophysical properties along the plate boundary fault interface. In 2011, a 55 km by 11 km 3D seismic reflection survey was completed using the R/V Marcus G. Langseth offshore western Costa Rica at the convergent margin of the Cocos and Caribbean plates. We applied pre-stack Kirchhoff time migration to a subset of these data across the frontal prism where amplitude versus offset (AVO) attributes were extracted along the decollement. When pore fluid pressure, l , exceeds 0.7, the pressure at which Poisson’s ratio begins to approach that of water, the AVO response of a fluid-filled, clay-rich decollement requires a high Poisson’s ratio and an excessively low seismic P-wave and S-wave velocity. Acute wedge taper, undercompacted subducted hemipelagic and pelagic sediments, and a smooth decollement in the northwest half of the survey correspond with decollement AVO response of relatively high values of Poisson’s ratio. These findings suggest increased pore fluid content and vertical containment of near-lithostatic pore fluid pressures within the decollement. In contrast, increased wedge taper angles, thin hemipelagic and pelagic sediments, and a rugose decollement beneath the southeastern frontal prism produce an AVO response interpreted as due to lower pore fluid contents and pressures. We propose that large-offset subducting basement normal faults in this area, as close as 20 m from the decollement, induce vertical fractures within the decollement that allow for fluid expulsion into the frontal prism and lower fluid pressure. Lateral variability of overpressure within the decollement shear zone of subduction margins is important in understanding the evolution of frontal prism strain accumulation and seismogenic rupture.