Far-field triggering of foreshocks near the nucleation zone of the 5 September 2012 (MW 7.6) Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica earthquake

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Abstract

On 5 September 2012, a moment magnitude (MW) 7.6 earthquake occurred directly beneath the Nicoya Peninsula, an area with dense seismic and geodetic network coverage. The mainshock ruptured a portion of a previously identified locked patch that was recognized due to a decade-long effort to delineate the megathrust seismic and aseismic processes in this area. Here we conduct a comprehensive study of the seismicity prior to this event utilizing a matched-filter analysis that allows us to decrease the magnitude of catalog completeness by 1 unit. We observe a statistically significant increase in seismicity rate below the Nicoya Peninsula following the 27 August 2012 (MW 7.3) El Salvador earthquake (about 450 km to the northwest and 9 days prior to the Nicoya earthquake). Additionally, we identify a cluster of small-magnitude (<2.2) earthquakes preceding the mainshock by about 35 min and within 15 km of its hypocenter. The immediate foreshock sequence occurred in the same area as those earthquakes triggered shortly after the El Salvador event; though it is not clear whether the effect of triggering from the El Salvador event persisted until the foreshock sequence given the uncertainties in seismicity rates from a relatively small number of earthquakes. If megathrust earthquakes at such distances can induce significant increases in seismicity during the days before another larger event, this sequence strengthens the need for real-time seismicity monitoring for large earthquake forecasting.

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Walter, J. I., Meng, X., Peng, Z., Schwartz, S. Y., Newman, A. V., & Protti, M. (2015). Far-field triggering of foreshocks near the nucleation zone of the 5 September 2012 (MW 7.6) Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica earthquake. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 431, 75–86. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.epsl.2015.09.017

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