Central America Tectonic Setting

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Figure 2. Digital elevation model of Central America and adjacent sea floor of the Cocos, Nazca, and Caribbean plates (IFM-GEOMAR). The Middle America Trench marks the convergent margin where the Cocos Plate subducts northeastward at 8-10 cm/yr beneath the Caribbean Plate and Central American volcanic arc. This image reveals a sharp contrast on the Cocos Plate between smooth sea floor formed at the East Pacific Rise (EPR) and rough, hotspot-thickened sea floor formed along the Cocos-Nazca spreading center (CNS). This boundary intersects the Middle America Trench offshore of Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula. The rectangle outlines the area of Costa Rica and Nicaragua shown in Figure 1.

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Uploaded: Jul29 08

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Jeff Marshall (background image courtesy of C. Ranero, ICM-CSIC, Barcelona, Spain)
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