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Campus Box 1169

One Brookings Dr.


St. Louis, MO 63130
white@seismo.wustl.edu
Outer Rise Seismicity and Dynamics:
Implications for Plate Rheology and Seamount Loading at the Tonga Subduction Zone
R. B. White and D. A. Wiens

The Outer Rise Stress & Rheology


arc outer rise
Seamount Subduction Parameter Value Reference
We want to see what the effect of the seamount could be on outer
Right: Implied principal stress directions in the slab at a Thermal model Cooling plate Stein and Stein, 1992

subduction zone. The flexural outer rise is subject to tension and en


ic
zo
ne extension
-172.8 -172.6 -172.4 -172.2 -172
Surface temperature 273 K Stein and Stein, 1992 rise stresses.
og Temperature at bottom of thermal plate 1723 K Stein and Stein, 1992
ism compression -18.2 -18.2
Thermal plate thickness 95 km Stein and Stein, 1992
compression at shallow and deep depths, respectively. The se
Upper Left: Extensive normal faulting is evident in the high- Thermal diffusivity 8.0×10-7 m2s-1 Stein and Stein, 1992

seismogenic zone is the locus of interplate coupling. Subduction resolution bathymetry [17] near the subduction of the Lithospheric age
Strain rate, ε˙
120 Ma
1.0×10-15 s-1 Chapple and Forsyth, 1979
Inelasticity is associated with the development of residual stresses
of asperities like seamounts might be important for increasing ext
en
sio
n

Capricorn Seamount. The contour interval is 50 m, and the Ductile yield strength defining bottom of mechanical lithosphere 50 MPa McNutt and Menard, 1982 which represent a deformation history “memory” and are controlled
Gravitational acceleration, g 9.8 ms-1

nch
seismic coupling and controlling the local stresses.
-18.4 -18.4
colors correspond to depth below sea level (see scale on
€ contrast between seawater and asthenosphere, ∆ρ
Density 2300 kms-3 by combinations of in-plane forces and plate bending/unbending

Tre
Pore pressure hydrostatic
[10,11]. We show here that in-plane compression following

ga
Density of seawater 1000 kms-3
reginal plot).

Ton
Plastic flow law dry dunite Chopra and Paterson, 1981
Creep coefficient, A
Activation energy, Q
7.24×10-18 Pa-3.4s-1
5.35×105 Jmol-1
Chopra and Paterson, 1981
Chopra and Paterson, 1981
lithospheric bending produces tensional failure while reversing the
Plate Motion -18.6 Capricorn -18.6
Lower Left: Comparison of a topographic profile normal to Stress exponent, n
Universal gas constant, R
3.4
8.314 Jmol-1K-1
Chopra and Paterson, 1981 loading order (compression then bending) results in compressional
Left: Tensional outer rise earthquakes are shallow and occur in Seamount
Young’s modulus, E 65 GPa stresses. Both types of faulting should not be seen in the same
the trench axis across the Capricorn Seamount (blue) and a Poisson’s ratio, ν 0.25
subduction zones with little interplate coupling. Compressional environment because they are due to fundamentally different
Tension Compression Tension
"normal" profile (red) just to the south of seamount.
outer rise earthquakes are often deeper and occur in coupled -18.8 -18.8
(A) (B) (C) states of stresses. This interpretation is at odds with the intuitive
subduction zones. Coupled zones are often associated with
0 0 0

One way that interplate coupling can be locally enhanced is 10


ss
io
n 10 10 notion that plate flexure produces both extension and compression

britt
pre
seismic gaps when the interplate interface is locked. The Tonga- 20
co
m 20 20
in the outer rise [1].

le
the attempted subduction of buoyant material such as a

Depth (km)

Depth (km)

Depth (km)
Trench 30 ttle 30 30

tens
km bri
Kermadec region is unusual because of the large number of outer

ion
40 40 40

-19
0 20 40
-19 seamount or island arc. This produces strong in-plane 50 50 50
Recent Slip Seismic Gap Recent Slip
rise events. Half of these are near the northern Tonga trench, and 60
plastic comp
ression 60 60
The yield strength represents the maximum level of stress that
compressive stress concentrations in the subducting oceanic
(uncoupled) (coupled) (uncoupled) -172.8 -172.6 -172.4 -172.2 -172 tic
plas ion
70 tens 70 70
both tensional and compressional events have been found may be supported within a material at a given depth. To construct
lithosphere in the vicinity of the asperity subduction [13]. A
80 80 80
-3000 -2000 -1000 0 1000 -3000 -2000 -1000 0 1000 -3000 -2000 -1000 0 1000

[1,2,4,5]. Stress (MPa) Stress (MPa) Stress (MPa)


a yield strength envelope, we follow the method of Mueller et al.
Slab Pull Slab Pull
0 number of the observed outer rise earthquakes with thrust- (D) (E) (F)
Capricorn Seamount faulting mechanisms are associated with the subduction of 0 0 0 [1996a]. At a given depth, the brittle and plastic yield strengths
2
these features [5,8]. The presence of nearby or recently
10
20
10
20
10
20
are calculated, and the lower of the two is assumed to represent
the lithospheric strength. The reference yield strength envelope

Depth (km)

Depth (km)

Depth (km)
Niue Island 30 30 30
subducted seamounts seems to correlate with the frequency 40 40 40

was constructed from the parameters in the table.

Depth (km)
4
and size of large interplate thrust events, and they might be 50
60
50
60
50
60

Stations & Structures


13 -1
–3 .81 ×10 Nm

6 an explanation for why some subduction zones seem to have 70 70 70 –7 .62 ×10
13
Nm
-1

nearby "normal" plate profile larger magnitude interplate ruptures than others. The
80
-3000 -2000 -1000
Stress (MPa)
0 1000
80
-3000 -2000 -1000
Stress (MPa)
0 1000
80
-3000 -2000 -1000
Stress (MPa)
0 1000 . Since our focal mechanisms are shallow normal-faulting, models
0
150 160 170 180 -170 -160 -150
8
Capricorn Seamount has been associated with a large Tonga (A) reference yield strength envelope computed from the values in the table above; (B) bending only with plate
curvature of 5×10-7 m-1; (C) in-plane compression only with -3.81×1013 Nm-1, which is half the compressive strength of B or D probably best describe the stress state here. If the
Pacific Plate
10
earthquake in 1919 [12]. the lithosphere; (D) bending of 5×10-7 m-1 + compression of -3.81×1013 Nm-1; (E) bending of 5×10-7 m-1 + unbending to seamount were inducing horizontal compression, we might
-10
0 50 100 150 200 250 300 3×10-7 m-1 with zero in-plane force; (F) bending of 5×10-7 m-1 + unbending to 3×10-7 m-1 + compression of either -
-178 -176 -174 -172 -170 Distance (km) 3.81×1013 Nm-1 (red) or -3.81×1013 Nm-1 (blue). expect models E or F to apply.
-20

Indo-Australian Samoa
-30 Plate
-14 Upper Left: Land and ocean
-40
bottom stations from the
1993-1995 SPaSE and 1994
-50 -16 LABATTS experiments were
used for this study [15].
Earthquakes Conclusions
Fiji Lau Basin Capricorn
Lower Left: Vs structures -175 -174.5 -174 -173.5 -173 -172.5 10.24.94 Using a combined land-OBS seismograph deployment with regional
-18 Seamount -18 87 events that occured during the 0
outer rise
-17 Left: Earthquakes located in this study.
were obtained from regional velocity models, we obtained good earthquake locations and depths.
OBS deployment (Sept-Dec 1994) 11.4.94d Note the clusters of events on and to the
waveform inversion [16,18], were located using the program 50 10.31.94 north of the Capricorn Seamount. The
The existence of many outer rise events gives the opportunity to study
and Vp was found from the HYPOELLIPSE [7]. Two clusters of
-17.5
colors correspond to bathymetry (see outer rise stresses. With the two clusters of events, we can study the
nch

-20 -20 11.4.94a


IASP91 Vp/Vs ratio at a given events in the outer rise were relocated regional map for scale).
100
effect of the Capricorn Seamount on the outer rise stresses.

Depth (km)
Tre

km
depth. The Pacific and arc
Lau Ridge

using a relative relocation code. 11.4.94c


Arc

-18
ga

0 100 200
crustal models were taken Nearby stations used local velocity Below: Example of waveform fits for one We can predict and help constrain the stress state of the slab by
T on

150
OBS Stations
ga

-22 -22
from seismic refraction data models, and teleseismic stations used Earthquakes are
of the events for which a focal considering history-dependent flexure calculations. Depending on the
T on

Land Stations plotted in a 9.19.94d


[5], and separate SH and SV IASP91. Events in the Capricorn 200
profile projected
perpendicular to
-18.5 mechanism was determined. First, order that bending and compression are applied to the plate, opposite
176 178 180 -178 -176 -174 -172 -170 structures were used for the cluster are generally deeper than the inferred
the trench axis.
fundamental vertical and transverse results can occur.
Depth (km) Lau Basin. ones in the cluster north of the 250
slab 9.19.94a reflectivity synthetics were computed for
-176 -175 -174 -173 -172
-19
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 seamount (N. Cluster). Rotated Longitude the land stations using the local velocity Regional waveform inversion allowed for the determination of some focal
Lower Right: Since we are models. Then, a grid search was mechanisms. We find normal-faulting solutions for all outer rise events
interested in earthquakes that Date Time Lat Lon Depth Notes Plane 1 Plane 2 Moment Mw
-19.5 -19.5
performed over all possible fault plane considered, suggesting the seamount is not affecting the stresses.
0
occur near the trench, a good (st, di, sl) (st, di, sl) (dyn-cm)
solutions to find the least error solution by
approximation is to use the September 19, 1994 a 9:27:26.69 -18.52 -172.43 31 (21) Capricorn 159,62,239 31,41,314 6.61×1023 5.18
minimizing the misfit between data and We plan to do further work by looking at the teleseismic waveforms of
September 19, 1994 b 9:40:37.51 -18.59 -172.42 87 Capricorn
50 velocity structures at the September 19, 1994 c 9:47:36.59 -18.63 -172.43 49 Capricorn -20
km
-20 synthetics. This full waveform inversion thrust-faulting outer rise events outside the period of this experiment.
September 19, 1994 d 10:24:20.34 -18.49 -172.43 32 (16) Capricorn 205,52,271 23,28,269 1.53×1023 4.76 0 25 50
station because most of the September 19, 1994 e 11:39:35.42 -18.50 -172.41 40 Capricorn OBS station was performed over 0.015-0.05 Hz.
Land station
100
ray path will be within one September 20, 1994
September 20, 1994
a
b
7:15:55.33
7:41:04.38
-18.57
-18.58
-172.39
-172.43
61
41
Capricorn
Capricorn
Earthquake

model. September 20, 1994 c 10:27:10.03 -18.62 -172.40 64 Capricorn -20.5


-175 -174.5 -174 -173.5 -173 -172.5
-20.5
-172
Depth (km)

September 20, 1994 d 14:27:01.39 -18.46 -172.42 22 Capricorn


September 20, 1994 e 15:16:31.20 -18.54 -172.36 61 Capricorn
LBSAz LBSAt LKBAz NIFOz

References
150 September 20, 1994 f 23:04:34.65 -18.65 -172.42 42 Capricorn
September 21, 1994 9:24:08.12 -18.59 -172.43 36 Capricorn -174 -173 -172 -171 -174 -173 -172 -171
-16 -16 -16 -16
October 11, 1994 8:26:44.15 -18.46 -172.36 55 Capricorn
October 14, 1994 16:16:14.65 -18.52 -172.60 66 Our Solutions CMT Solutions 11.4.94a
23
October 24, 1994 4:44:32.70 -17.42 -172.24 10 (11) N. Cluster 187,47,251 33,46,289 6.01×10 5.15
200 11.4.94d
October 29, 1994 12:57:56.64 -17.93 -172.14 67 -17 -17 -17
11.4.94d
-17 LTKAz NIUEt
24
October 31, 1994 23:04:08.48 -17.76 -172.86 45 (26) CMT, not outer rise 209,23,91 28,67,90 1.64×10 5.44 10.31.94 10.31.94 1. Chapple and Forsyth, J. Geophys. Res., 84, 6729, 1979. 10. Mueller, et al., Geophys. J. Int., 125, 39, 1996a.
Tonga Trench

November 1, 1994 a 6:02:16.41 -17.47 -172.23 48 N. Cluster 2. Chen and Forsyth, J. Geophys. Res., 83, 4995, 1978. 11. Mueller, et al., Geophys. J. Int., 125, 54, 1996b.
Pacific Plate November 1, 1994 b 14:29:05.36 -17.47 -172.22 28 N. Cluster 11.4.94c 11.4.94c
250 3. Chopra and Paterson, Tectonophysics, 78, 453, 1981. 12. Pacheco, et al., J. Geophys. Res., 98, 14133, 1993.
Tonga Arc November 4, 1994 a 1:35:33.58 -17.49 -172.26 19 (11) N. Cluster 177,47,230 47,56,304 1.31×1025 6.04 -18 -18 -18 -18 strike=177, dip=47, slip=230
November 4, 1994 b 1:43:38.11 -17.50 -172.21 34 N. Cluster 4. Christensen and Lay, J. Geophys. Res., 93, 13367, 1988. 13. Scholz and Small, Geology, 25, 487, 1997.
Lau Basin LTKAt Mw=6.04, depth=11km VAVAt
IASP91 November 4, 1994 c 5:24:19.71 -17.57 -172.24 28 (11) N. Cluster, CMT 194,63,263 30,28,284 4.60×1023 5.08 5. Christensen and Ruff, J. Geophys. Res., 93, 13421, 1988. 14. Stein and Stein, Nature, 359, 123, 1992.
November 4, 1994 d 10:12:39.82 -17.44 -172.16 6 (6) N. Cluster, CMT 202,63,267 28,27,275 2.14×1024 5.52 km km
6. Crawford, et al., J. Geophys. Res., in press, 2002. 15. Wiens, et al., IRIS Newsletter, 14, 1, 1995.
300 November 8, 1994 12:45:40.28 -17.46 -172.20 77 N. Cluster -19
0 50
-19 -19
0 50
-19
2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Lau Basin
hot, slow
Tonga Arc
thick crust
Pacific Plate
cold, fast November 22, 1994 22:45:11.18 -18.64 -172.42 39 Capricorn -174 -173 -172 -171 -174 -173 -172 -171 7. Lahr, U.S. Geol. Survey Open-file Report, 99-023, 1999. 16. Wiens and Robertson, AGU Fall Meeting, S52A-1060, 2002.
Velocity (km/s) November 28, 1994 2:47:30.01 -19.26 -172.61 26 8. Lay, et al., Phys. Earth Planet. Int., 54, 258, 1989. 17. Wright, et al., Mar. Geophys. Res., 21, 489, 2000.
Above: Comparison of CMT to our solutions. KDVUt EUATz EUATt HAPIt 9. McNutt and Menard, Geophys. J. R. astr. Soc., 71, 363, 1982. 18. Xu and Wiens, J. Geophys. Res., 102, 27439, 1997.
Outer rise events: All depths are with respect to sea level. Depths in parentheses are best-fitting for the waveform inversion.