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  • 1
    Publication Date: 2019-02-01
    Description: The Gulf of Cadiz seismicity is characterized by persistent low to intermediate magnitude earthquakes, occasionally punctuated by high magnitude events such as the M ~ 8.7 1755 Great Lisbon earthquake and the M = 7.9 event of February 28th, 1969. Micro-seismicity was recorded during 11 months by a temporary network of 25 ocean bottom seismometers (OBSs) in an area of high seismic activity, encompassing the potential source areas of the mentioned large magnitude earthquakes. We combined micro-seismicity analysis with processing and interpretation of deep crustal seismic reflection profiles and available refraction data to investigate the possible tectonic control of the seismicity in the Gulf of Cadiz area. Three controlling mechanisms are explored: i) active tectonic structures, ii) transitions between different lithospheric domains and inherited Mesozoic structures, and iii) fault weakening mechanisms. Our results show that micro-seismicity is mostly located in the upper mantle and is associated with tectonic inversion of extensional rift structures and to the transition between different lithospheric/rheological domains. Even though the crustal structure is well imaged in the seismic profiles and in the bathymetry, crustal faults show low to negligible seismic activity. A possible explanation for this is that the crustal thrusts are thin-skinned structures rooting in relatively shallow sub-horizontal décollements associated with (aseismic) serpentinization levels at the top of the lithospheric mantle. Therefore, co-seismic slip along crustal thrusts may only occur during large magnitude events, while for most of the inter-seismic cycle these thrusts remain locked, or slip aseismically. We further speculate that high magnitude earthquake's ruptures may only nucleate in the lithospheric mantle and then propagate into the crust across the serpentinized layers.
    Type: Article , PeerReviewed
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  • 2
    Publication Date: 2018-12-17
    Description: We present new analogue modelling results of crustal thrust-systems in which a deformable (brittle) hanging wall is assumed to endure passive internal deformation during thrusting, i.e. exclusively as a consequence of having to adapt its shape to the variable geometry of a rigid footwall. Building on previous experimental contributions, we specifically investigate the role of two so far overlooked critical variables: a) concave-convex (CC) vs. flat-ramp-flat (FRF) thrust ramp geometry; and b) presence vs. absence of a basal velocity discontinuity (VD). Regarding the first variable, we compare new results for considered (CC) smoother ramp types against classical experiments in which (FRF) sharp ramp geometries are always prescribed. Our results show that the considered sharp vs. smooth variation in the thrust-ramp geometry produces important differences in the distribution of the local stress field in the deformable hanging wall above both (lower and upper) fault bends, with corresponding styles of strain accommodation being expressed by marked differences in measured morpho-structural parameters. Regarding the second variable, we for the first time report analogue modelling results of this type of experiments in which basal VDs are experimentally prescribed to be absent. Our results critically show that true passive hanging wall deformation is only possible to simulate in the absence of any basal VD, since active shortening accommodation always necessarily occurs in the hanging wall above such a discontinuity (i.e. above the lower fault bend). In addition, we show that the morpho-structural configuration of model thrust-wedges formed for prescribed VD absence conditions complies well with natural examples of major overthrusts, wherein conditions must occur that approximate a frictionless state along the main basal thrust-plane.
    Type: Article , PeerReviewed
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  • 3
    Publication Date: 2019-02-01
    Description: The NW-SE striking Otway Basin in southeastern Australia is part of the continental rift system that formed during the separation of Australia from Antarctica. The development of this sedimentary basin occurred in two phases of Late Jurassic-Early Cretaceous and Late Cretaceous rifting. The evolution of this basin is mainly associated with extensional processes that took place in a pre-existing basement of Archean, Proterozoic to Paleozoic age. In this study, the total amounts of extension and stretching factor (β factor) have been measured for six transects across the entire passive margin of the Otway Basin region. The results show significant variation in extensional stretching along the basin, with the smallest stretching factors in the easternmost (β = 1.73, 1.9) and westernmost part of the basin (β = 2.09), and the largest stretching factors in the central part (β = 2.14 to 2.44). The domain with the lowest β factor is underlain mostly by thicker lithosphere of the Delamerian Orogen and older crustal fragments of the Selwyn Block. In contrast, the region with the largest β factor and amount of extension is related to younger and thinner lithosphere of the Lachlan Orogen. The main basement structures have been mapped throughout eastern South Australia and Victoria to examine the possible relationships between the younger pattern of extensional faults and the older basement fabrics. The pattern of normal faults varies considerably along onshore and offshore components of the Otway Basin from west to east. It appears that the orientation of pre-existing structures in the basement has some control on the geometry of the younger normal faults across the Otway Basin, but only in a limited number of places. In most areas the basement fabric has no control on the younger faulting pattern. Basement structure such as the north-south Coorong Shear Zone seems to affect the geometry of normal faults by changing their strike from E-W to NW-SE and also, in the easternmost part of the basin, the Bambra Fault changes the strike of normal faults from NW-SE to the NE-SW. Our results imply that the properties of the continental lithosphere exert a major influence on the β factor and amount of crustal extension but only a minor influence on the geometry of extensional faults.
    Type: Article , PeerReviewed
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