Volume 23, Issue 8 p. 887-890

Surficial evidence of fluid expulsion from the Costa Rica Accretionary Prism

L. M. Kahn

L. M. Kahn

Earth Science Department and Institute of Tectonics, University of California, Santa Cruz, CA 95064

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E. A. Silver

E. A. Silver

Earth Science Department and Institute of Tectonics, University of California, Santa Cruz, CA 95064

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D. Orange

D. Orange

MBARI, 160 Central Avenue, Pacific Grove, CA 93950

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R. Kochevar

R. Kochevar

MBARI, 160 Central Avenue, Pacific Grove, CA 93950

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B. McAdoo

B. McAdoo

Earth Science Department and Institute of Tectonics, University of California, Santa Cruz, CA 95064

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First published: 15 April 1996
Citations: 30

Abstract

The nature and distribution of authigenic carbonates, chemosynthetic bacterial mats, and unique macrobenthic chemosynthetic communities of bivalves and tube worms are important for evaluating and reconstructing present and past fluid venting of accretionary complexes. This paper describes the authigenic carbonates, chemosynthetic fauna, and fluid venting observed at the four tectonic regions of the Costa Rica accretionary wedge in February 1994 during an ALVIN diving program of 20 submersible dives. We found no surficial evidence of highly focused fluid venting at the toe of the prism (outermost 3 km), as implied by the absence of authigenic carbonates and chemosynthetic fauna. The absence of vent communities on the lower 3 km of the prism and the relatively elevated heat flow with respect to the adjacent, incoming Cocos plate (Langseth and Silver, this issue), suggests diffuse, rather than focused flow through the toe of the prism. Twelve active and relict vent sites marked by small clusters of live vesicomyid clams are localized at the bases and tops of out-of-sequence-thrusts, implicating fracture permeability as the fluid conduit in the lower slope region (but upslope from the toe). Vast authigenic carbonates and seven active and relict vent sites marked by large, dense clusters of chemosynthetic organisms predominate the largest mud diapir in the mid-slope region. Fluid expulsion appears to be more restricted on the upper slope, with only 2 small but dense vents marked by chemosynthetic fauna observed at one wall of one canyon.