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slow slip event, seafloor geodesy, subduction zone

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The near‐trench behavior of subduction megathrust faults is critical for understanding earthquake hazard and tsunami generation. The shallow subduction interface is typically located in unconsolidated sediments that are considered too weak to accumulate elastic strain. However, the spectrum of shallow fault slip behavior is still elusive, due in large part to the lack of near‐field observations. Here we combine measurements from seafloor pressure sensors near the trench and an onshore GPS network in a time‐dependent inversion to image the initiation and migration of a well‐documented slow slip event (SSE) in 2007 at the Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica. Our results show that the shallow SSE initiated on the shallow subduction interface at a depth of ~15 km, where pore fluid pressure is inferred to be high, and propagated all the way to the trench. The migrating event may have triggered a second subevent that occurred 1 month later. Our results document the release of elastic strain at the shallow part of the subduction megathrust and suggest prior accumulation of elastic strain. In conjunction with near‐trench shallow slow slip recently reported for the Hikurangi subduction zone and trench breaching ruptures revealed in some large earthquakes, our results suggest that near‐trench strain accumulation and release at the shallower portions of the subduction interface is more common than previously thought.

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Geophysical Research Letters, v. 44, issue 10, p. 4846-4854

©2017. Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada. Geophysical Research Letters. Reproduced with the permission of the Minister of Natural Resources Canada.

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