Expedition 344: Costa Rica Seismogenesis Project

Costa Rica Siesmogenesis Project A, Stage 2 (CRISP-A2)

23 October to 11 December 2012

Days at sea: 3 transit + 44 operation days

Panama City, Panama to Puntarenas, Costa Rica





Key Personnel

Co-Chief Scientist: Robert Harris (College of Earth, Oceanic, and Atmospheric Sciences, Oregon State University, USA)

Co-Chief Scientist: Arito Sakaguchi (Institute for Research on Earth Evolution, JAMSTEC, Japan)

Expedition Project Manager/Staff Scientist: Katerina Petronotis (IODP-USIO, Texas A&M Univeristy, USA)

Logging< Staff Scientist: Alberto Malinverno (Lamont-Doherty of Columbia University, USA)

Education Officer: Dena Rosenberger (El Capitan High School, USA)

Expedition Summary

Have you ever felt an earthquake?  The magnitude 9.0 earthquake in Japan in March of last year brought earthquakes into the news in a big way! Costa Rica just had a magnitude 7.6 earthquake in September of this year.  These two events happened along a plate boundary where one plate is pushed under another plate, called a subduction zone. Join Expedition 344 scientists as they try to understand how earthquakes form (seismogenesis) where plate boundaries exist, specifically in subduction zones. 

Our mission

During the 47-day expedition, the JR scientists will try to understand how and when the Cocos plate (in the Pacific Ocean) started pushing under the Caribbean Plate, which holds Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama. These countries make a land bridge that connects North America and South America (see map). The CRISP (Costa Rica Seismogenesis Project) Expedition will try to find out what is happening with these plates as they push under each other along the area called the Costa Rica Subduction Zone. This expedition will continue where the first CRISP Expedition (Expedition 334, from March 13 to April 13, 2011) left off.  

Specifically, the upcoming expedition (CRISP 2) will:
1. Recover good quality sediment cores on the incoming plate (the Cocos plate)
2. Drill at the frontal prism sediments and decollement (see diagram below)




  From: Long-term hydrogeochemical records

  in the oceanic basement and forearc prism at

  the Costa Rica subduction zone.

  Diagram courtesy of M. Kastner (SIO)


Specifically, the scientific objectives are:

1. Determine when the Cocos Plate started being pushed under the Carribean Plate and how that might have affected earthquake formation.

2. Determine when the volcanos and mountains in Central America formed. 

3. Determine when some of the volcanos in Central America stopped erupting.    

Scientifically Speaking…

This expedition will focus on sampling the rocks and fluids at the subduction zone, and measuring the temperature and stresses that might cause the plates to slip and cause an earthquake. 

Geologically Speaking…              

About 5 million years ago, the subduction of the Cocos Plate under the Caribbean Plate caused the volcanic land bridge to start forming between North America and South America.  Sixty-eight volcanoes, many still active, are included in this chain.  When this land bridge formed, the climate of the entire planet was affected. The Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean were no longer connected, and the Gulf Stream started flowing north along the eastern side of North America.  Animals and plants were now able to travel between the two continents, as well, introducing new species to both.

For a wonderful explanation of plate tectonics, watch National Geographic's "Colliding Continents<"

To read the full scientific prospectus, go to:




Join us TODAY for a pre-expedition Webinar!

Join us TODAY for a pre-expedition Webinar!

Curious about the next expedition of the JOIDES Resolution? Expedition 344 starts October 23rd! Sign up for our pre-expedition webinar TODAY, Wednesday, October 3, 2012, at 2:30 PDT, 5:30 EDT. You will meet the co-chief of the expedition, the Education Officer, learn about opportunities for educators, and have a chance to ask questions. If you can’t join us for this event, check out all of the other possibilities on the website: joidesresolution.org
Come join us!
Information below:
Space is limited.
Reserve your Webinar seat now at: 
Come join us to learn what this expedition is about, why we are exploring this area, and how you can connect live and through the joidesresolution.org web portal to follow along. An overview of the science, opportunities for educators, and time for Q&A will be included.

Space is limited.
Reserve your Webinar seat now at: