Variations in fluid transport and seismogenic properties in the Lesser Antilles subduction zone: constraints from joint active-source and local earthquake tomography
IPGP - Îlot Cuvier
Séminaires Géosciences Marines
The degree of coupling and the seismogenic properties of the plate interface at subduction zones are affected by the abundance of slab fluids and subducted sediments. High fluid input can cause high pore-fluid pressures in the subduction channel and decrease coupling leading to aseismic behaviour. At greater depth fluids released from the slab can cause serpentinization of mantle wedge peridotites and affect its mechanical properties. Constraining fluid input and transfer is therefore important for understanding plate coupling and large earthquake hazard, particularly in places where geodetic and seismological constraints are scarce. We use P-wave traveltimes from several active source seismic experiments and P- and S-wave traveltimes from shallow and intermediate depth ( 1.80) on the top of the slab, at depths of up to 100 km. We interpret this high Vp/Vs ratio anomaly as a possible evidence of elevated fluid content either as free fluids or as bound fluids in hydrated minerals (e.g. serpentinite). The strength and depth extent of the anomaly varies strongly from south to north along the subduction zone and correlates with variations in forearc morphology and with sediment input constrained by MCS profiles. The anomaly is stronger and extends to greater depth in the south, offshore Martinique, where sediment input is elevated due to the vicinity of the Orinoco delta. The gently dipping forearc slope observed in this region may be the result of weak coupling of the plate interface. A high Vp/Vs ratio is also observed in the forearc likely indicating a fractured and water-saturated overriding plate. On the other hand the anomaly is weaker and shallower offshore Guadeloupe, where sediment input is low due to subduction of the Barracuda ridge. Here a strong plate coupling is likely responsible for uplifting the inner forearc and formation of the Karukera spur. We infer that variations in plate coupling modulated by slab fluid transport and release are a major factor in determining the distribution of seismic slip in the Lesser Antilles subduction zone.