Subduction of the right-lateral Panama Fracture Zone, along the convergent margin of Central America creates abrupt lateral variations in convergence rate, obliquity, and subducting crustal thickness at its intersection with the Middle America Trench. This intersection, known as the Panama (CO-NZ-CA) Triple Junction, is migrating to the southeast at a rate of 55 mm/yr, and currently coincides with the lateral termination of the Fila Costeña Thrust Belt in the inner forearc of the overriding plate. Mapping in the inner forearc in the area that straddles the subducting Panama Fracture Zone reveals that Cocos-Caribbean convergence west of the triple junction leads to the development of an inner forearc thrust belt inboard of the colliding Cocos Ridge, while little deformation is evident inboard of Nazca-Caribbean convergence, east of the triple junction. This results in the lateral termination of the Fila Costeña Thrust Belt in the region of the forearc that projects over the Panama Fracture Zone, where four out of five mapped thrust faults tip out and are buried by lahars. Three new balanced cross-sections indicate a steep gradient in shortening from the center of the thrust belt to its southeastern termination. The short-term history of the inner forearc recorded in the landscape and topography of the Fila Costeña is consistent with the southeastward migration of the thrust belt and the Panama Triple Junction throughout the past ∼ 3 Ma, with evidence for the growth of a new topographic divide and reorganization of stream channel networks.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Geochemistry and Petrology
- Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
- Space and Planetary Science