Imaging the crustal structure of the southern plate boundary of the Niuafo’ou microplate, Lau Basin, southwest Pacific, with reflection and refractions seismic data.

Beniest, Anouk, Dannowski, Anke , Schnabel, M., Schmid, Florian , Werner, Reinhard, Kopp, Heidrun , Riedel, Michael , Heyde, I., Barckhausen, U., Petersen, Florian , Schramm, Bettina and Hannington, Mark D. (2021) Imaging the crustal structure of the southern plate boundary of the Niuafo’ou microplate, Lau Basin, southwest Pacific, with reflection and refractions seismic data. [Poster] In: 81. Jahrestagung der Deutschen Geophysikalischen Gesellschaft (DGG). , 01.03.-05.03.2021, Kiel (online) .

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Abstract

At the Australian-Pacific plate boundary, the northern Lau Basin is one of the fastest opening back-arc basins on earth. The current configuration of micro-plates, plate boundaries and motions within the northern Lau Basin is quite well understood, but in the southern part of the Lau Basin questions remain about the crustal structure. Here, the Central Lau Spreading Center (CLSC) and the southern tip of the Fonualei Rift and Spreading Center (FRSC) define the diffuse southern boundary of the Niuafo’ou microplate. It remains unclear where the southern plate boundary is located and what kind of boundary it is.We present 1) seismic refraction data of a 200-km long, E-W transect acquired in the transition zone from the eastern side of the CLSC to the southern tip of the FRSC and 2) seismic reflection data of four E-W profiles of varying length, acquired in both the southern part of the Niuafo’ou microplate and the transition in between the CLSC and the FRSC. The seismic data acquisition was accompanied by parametric sediment echosounder, gravimetric and magnetic measurements and was complemented by heat flow probes and dredged samples of the seafloor in the vicinity of the profile.Our travel time tomography reveals a pronounced lateral variation in seismic P-wave velocities from west to east, within the 7-8 km thick back-arc crust. Towards the east, the crust gradually thickens to 13 km of arc crust. The reflection seismic data reveals sediment pockets, varying between 300m to 1000m depth, located on both the thinner back-arc crust and thicker arc crust. In the abyssal regions, faults that cross-cut the basement, but do not reach the surface, are observed on all reflection seismic profiles and are considered inactive today. Towards the west of the profiles, faults reach the surface and are considered active. Rock sampling from this area retrieved predominantly massive aphyric basalts from the back-arc crust in the west. Olivine-rich basalts, andesites, and a broad spectrum of volcaniclastic rocks are the most common rock-type collected from the arc crust in the east.The lack of a thinner crust near the southern tip of the FRSC, the presence of inactive faults that cross-cut the basement, and the presence of active faults in the CLSC suggest that the southern plate boundary of the Niuafo’ou microplate accommodated extension in a wide-rift tectonic setting in the past. Today, this extension is accommodated in the CLSC in a narrow extensional tectonic setting.

Document Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Poster)
Research affiliation: OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB4 Dynamics of the Ocean Floor > FB4-MUHS > Marine Mineralische Rohstoffe
OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB4 Dynamics of the Ocean Floor > FB4-GDY Marine Geodynamics
OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB4 Dynamics of the Ocean Floor > FB4-MUHS
Date Deposited: 13 Jul 2021 13:19
Last Modified: 13 Jul 2021 13:19
URI: https://oceanrep.geomar.de/id/eprint/53332

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