Alteration of the subducting oceanic lithosphere at the southern central Chile trench-outer rise.

Contreras-Reyes, Eduardo, Grevemeyer, Ingo , Flueh, Ernst R., Scherwath, Martin and Heesemann, Martin (2007) Alteration of the subducting oceanic lithosphere at the southern central Chile trench-outer rise. Open Access Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems, 8 . DOI 10.1029/2007GC001632.

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Hydrothermal circulation and brittle faulting processes affecting the oceanic lithosphere are usually confined to the upper crust for oceanic lithosphere created at intermediate to fast spreading rates. Lower crust and mantle rocks are therefore relatively dry and undeformed. However, recent studies at subduction zones suggest that hydration of the oceanic plate is most vigorous at the trench–outer rise, where extensional bending-related faulting affects the hydrogeology of the oceanic crust and mantle. To understand the degree of hydration, we studied the seismic velocity structure of the incoming Nazca plate offshore of southern central Chile (∼43°S); here the deep-sea trench is heavily filled with up to 2 km of sediments. Seismic refraction and wide-angle data, complemented by seismic reflection imaging of sediments, are used to derive a two-dimensional velocity model using joint refraction and reflection traveltime tomography. The seismic profile runs perpendicular to the spreading ridge and trench axes. The velocity model derived from the tomography inversion consists of a ∼5.3-km-thick oceanic crust and shows P wave velocities typical for mature fast spreading crust in the seaward section of the profile, with uppermost mantle velocities as fast as ∼8.3 km/s. Approaching the Chile trench, seismic velocities are significantly reduced, however, suggesting that the structures of both the oceanic crust and uppermost mantle have been altered, possibly due to a certain degree of fracturing and hydration. The decrease of the velocities roughly starts at the outer rise, ∼120 km from the deformation front, and continues into the trench. Even though the trench is filled with sediment, basement outcrops in the outer rise frequently pierce the sedimentary blanket. Anomalously low heat flow values near outcropping basement highs indicate an efficient inflow of cold seawater into the oceanic crust. Hydration and crustal cracks activated by extensional bending-related faulting are suggested to govern the reduced velocities in the vicinity of the trench. Considering typical flow distances of 50 km, water might be redistributed over most of the trench–outer rise area. Where trapped in faults, seawater may migrate down to mantle depth, causing up to ∼9% of serpentinization in at least the uppermost ∼2 km of the mantle between the outer rise and the trench axis.

Document Type: Article
Keywords: trench-outer rise, bending-related faulting, seismic tomography, Tectonophysics: Subduction zone processes, Tectonophysics: Plate boundary: general, Seismology: Oceanic crust
Research affiliation: OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB4 Dynamics of the Ocean Floor > FB4-GDY Marine Geodynamics
Refereed: Yes
Open Access Journal?: No
DOI etc.: 10.1029/2007GC001632
ISSN: 1525-2027
Projects: Future Ocean
Date Deposited: 03 Dec 2008 16:51
Last Modified: 01 Mar 2018 12:56

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