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Flat versus normal subduction zones: a comparison based on 3-D regional traveltime tomography and petrological modelling of central Chile and western Argentina (29°–35°S)

Marot, Marianne and Monfret, Tony and Gerbault, Muriel and Nolet, Guust and Ranalli, Giorgio and Pardo, Mario Flat versus normal subduction zones: a comparison based on 3-D regional traveltime tomography and petrological modelling of central Chile and western Argentina (29°–35°S). (2014) Geophysical Journal International, 199 (3). 1633-1654. ISSN 0956-540X

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1093/gji/ggu355


Our study compares the seismic properties between the flat and normal subduction regions in central Chile, to better understand the links between the slab geometry, surface deformation and the deeper structures. In comparison with previous studies, we show the most complete 3-D regional seismic tomography images for this region, in which we use (1) a larger seismic data set compiled from several short-term seismic catalogues, (2) a denser seismic array allowing a better resolution of the subduction zone from the trench to the backarc and into the upper ∼30 km of the slab and (3) a starting 1-D background velocity model specifically calculated for this region and refined over the years. We assess and discuss our tomography results using regional seismic attenuation models and estimating rock types on the basis of pressure and temperature conditions computed from thermomechanical models. Our results show significant seismic differences between the flat and normal subduction zones. As expected, the faster seismic velocities and increased seismicity within the flat slab and overriding lithosphere are generally consistent with a cooler thermal state. Our results are also consistent with dehydration of the mantle above the subducted Juan Fernandez Ridge at the eastern tip of the flat slab segment, indicating that the latter retains some fluids during subduction. However, fluids in the upper portion of the flat slab segment are not seismically detected, since we report instead fast slab seismic velocities which contradict the argument of its buoyancy being the cause of horizontal subduction. The forearc region, above the flat slab, exhibits high Vs and very low Vp/Vs ratios, uncorrelated with typical rock compositions, increased density or reduced temperature; this feature is possibly linked with the aftershock effects of the Mw7.1 1997 Punitaqui earthquake, the flat slab geometry and/or seismic anisotropy. At the surface, the seismic variations correlate with the geological terranes. The Andean crust is strongly reduced in seismic velocities along the La Ramada–Aconcagua deformation belt, suggesting structural damage. Slow seismic velocities along the Andean Moho match non-eclogitized hydrated rocks, consistent with a previous delamination event or a felsic composition, which in turn supports the extent of the Chilenia terrane at these depths. We confirm previous studies that suggest that the Cuyania terrane in the backarc region is mafic and contains an eclogitized lower crust below 50-km depth. We also hypothesize major Andean basement detachment faults (or shear zones) to extend towards the plate interface and canalize slab-derived fluids into the continental crust.

Item Type:Article
HAL Id:hal-01859184
Audience (journal):International peer-reviewed journal
Uncontrolled Keywords:
Institution:French research institutions > Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - CNRS (FRANCE)
Other partners > Carleton University (CANADA)
French research institutions > Institut de Recherche pour le Développement - IRD (FRANCE)
Other partners > Observatoire de la Côte d'Azur (FRANCE)
Other partners > Universidad de Chile - UCHILE (CHILE)
Other partners > Université Côte d'Azur (FRANCE)
Laboratory name:
Deposited On:16 Mar 2021 15:11

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