Kinematics of the Nicaraguan Forearc from GPS Geodesy

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Nicaragua, forearc, GPS

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Campaign GPS data from a network in the Nicaraguan forearc show a strong component of arc-parallel motion indicating northwest translation of a nearly rigid forearc sliver. Our measured mean velocity for forearc sites of 15.1 mm yr−1 agrees well with the arc-parallel sliver motion predicted previously by DeMets (2001) derived from closure constraints on oblique convergence between the Cocos and Caribbean plates. The lack of a northeasterly oriented arc-normal component of motion in forearc velocities indicates that there are complexities involved beyond a simple interpretation of sliver motion being driven by oblique convergence. The forearc is reasonably well-fit by rigid rotation about an Euler pole with a rms misfit of residual velocities of 4.9 ± 2.6 mm yr−1. Current motion of the forearc sliver relative to the stable Caribbean plate yields predominantly boundary parallel NW motion with boundary normal extension in the northwestern region averaging ∼5 mm yr−1.

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Geophysical Research Letters, v. 34, issue 2, art. L02302