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  • 1
    Publication Date: 2019-09-23
    Description: We describe the deep structure of the south Colombian–northern Ecuador convergent margin using travel time inversion of wide-angle seismic data recently collected offshore. The margin appears segmented into three contrasting zones. In the North Zone, affected by four great subduction earthquakes during the 20th century, normal oceanic crust subducts beneath the oceanic Cretaceous substratum of the margin underlined by seismic velocities as high as 6.0–6.5 km/s. In the Central Zone the subducting oceanic crust is over-thickened beneath the Carnegie Ridge. A steeper slope and a well-developed, high velocity, Cretaceous oceanic basement characterizes the margin wedge. This area coincides with a gap in significant subduction earthquake activity. In the South Zone, the subducting oceanic crust is normal. The fore-arc is characterized by large sedimentary basins suggesting significant subsidence. Velocities in the margin wedge are significantly lower and denote a different nature or a higher degree of fracturing. Even if the distance between the three profiles exceeds 150 km, the structural segmentation obtained along the Ecuadorian margin correlates well with the distribution of seismic activity and the neotectonic zonation.
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  • 2
    Publication Date: 2019-09-23
    Description: Oceanic island arcs are sites of high magma production and contribute to the formation of continental crust. Geophysical studies may provide information on the configuration and composition of island arc crust, however, to date only few seismic profiles exist across active island arcs, limiting our knowledge on the deep structure and processes related to the production of arc crust. We acquired active-source wide-angle seismic data crossing the central Lesser Antilles island arc north of Dominica where the oceanic Tiburon Ridge subducts obliquely beneath the forearc. A combined analysis of wide-angle seismics and pre-stack depth migrated reflection data images the complex structure of the backstop and its segmentation into two individual ridges, suggesting an intricate relation between subducted basement relief and forearc deformation. Tomographic imaging reveals three distinct layers composing the island arc crust. A three kilometer thick upper crust of volcanogenic sedimentary rocks and volcaniclastics is underlain by intermediate to felsic middle crust and plutonic lower crust. The island arc crust may comprise inherited elements of oceanic plateau material contributing to the observed crustal thickness. A high density ultramafic cumulates layer is not detected, which is an important observation for models of continental crust formation. The upper plate Moho is found at a depth of 24 km below the sea floor. Upper mantle velocities are close to the global average. Our study provides important information on the composition of the island arc crust and its deep structure, ranging from intermediate to felsic and mafic conditions. In this study we model the deep structure of the Lesser Antilles Island Arc. We use a hybrid analysis of refraction and reflection seismic data. We image the complex structure of two ridges forming the backstop. Island arc crust composition ranges from intermediate to felsic to mafic conditions. We discuss the formation of island arc and continental crust.
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  • 3
    Publication Date: 2018-01-05
    Description: This work focuses on the analysis of a unique set of seismological data recorded by two temporary networks of seismometers deployed onshore and offshore in the Central Lesser Antilles Island Arc from Martinique to Guadeloupe islands. During the whole recording period, extending from January to the end of August 2007, more than 1300 local seismic events were detected in this area. A subset of 769 earthquakes was located precisely by using HypoEllipse. We also computed focal mechanisms using P-wave polarities of the best azimuthally constrained earthquakes. We detected earthquakes beneath the Caribbean forearc and in the Atlantic oceanic plate as well. At depth seismicity delineates the Wadati–Benioff Zone down to 170 km depth. The main seismic activity is concentrated in the lower crust and in the mantle wedge, close to the island arc beneath an inner forearc domain in comparison to an outer forearc domain where little seismicity is observed. We propose that the difference of the seismicity beneath the inner and the outer forearc is related to a difference of crustal structure between the inner forearc interpreted as a dense, thick and rigid crustal block and the lighter and more flexible outer forearc. Seismicity is enhanced beneath the inner forearc because it likely increases the vertical stress applied to the subducting plate.
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  • 4
    Publication Date: 2018-01-05
    Description: Highlights • We image the deep structure of the Lesser Antilles Subduction Zone by MCS profiles. • The complex deformation of the outer forearc crust is induced by subducting ridges. • We discuss also the effect of the subducting compressive NAM–SAM Plate-boundary. • Along-strike variations of the seaward edge of the outer forearc crust are discovered. • The updip limit proxy of the seismogenic part reaches 20 km trenchwards than believed. Abstract We present the results from a new grid of deep penetration multichannel seismic (MCS) profiles over the 280-km-long north-central segment of the Lesser Antilles subduction zone. The 14 dip-lines and 7 strike-lines image the topographical variations of (i) the subduction interplate décollement, (ii) the top of the arcward subducting Atlantic oceanic crust (TOC) under the huge accretionary wedge up to 7 km thick, and (iii) the trenchward dipping basement of the deeply buried forearc backstop of the Caribbean upper plate. The four northernmost long dip-lines of this new MCS grid reveal several-kilometre-high topographic variations of the TOC beneath the accretionary wedge offshore Guadeloupe and Antigua islands. They are located in the prolongation of those mapped on the Atlantic seafloor entering subduction, such as the Barracuda Ridge. This MCS grid also provides evidences on unexpected huge along-strike topographical variation of the backstop basement and of the deformation style affecting the outer forearc crust and sediments. Their mapping clearly indicates two principal areas of active deformation in the prolongation of the major Barracuda and Tiburon ridges and also other forearc basement highs that correspond to the prolongation of smaller oceanic basement highs recently mapped on the Atlantic seafloor. Although different in detail, the two main deforming forearc domains share similarities in style. The imaged deformation of the sedimentary stratification reveals a time- and space-dependent faulting by successive warping and unwarping, which deformation can be readily attributed to the forearc backstop sweeping over the two obliquely-oriented elongated and localized topographical ridges. The induced faulting producing vertical scarps in this transport does not require a regional arc-parallel extensional regime as proposed for the inner forearc domain, and may support a partitioned tectonic deformation such as in the case of an outer forearc sliver. A contrasted reflectivity of the sedimentary layering at the transition between the outer forearc and accretionary domains was resolved and used to define the seaward edge of the outer forearc basement interpreted as being possibly a proxy to the updip limit of the interplate seismogenic zone. Its mapping documents along-arc variations of some tens of kilometres of the subduction backstop with respect to the negative gravity anomaly commonly taken as marking the subduction trench. With the exception of the southernmost part, the newly mapped updip limit reaches 25 km closer to the trench, thus indicating a possible wider seismogenic zone over almost the whole length of the study area.
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  • 5
    Publication Date: 2015-01-27
    Description: The Gibraltar arc, spans a complex portion of the Africa-Eurasia plate boundary marked by slow oblique convergence and intermediate and deep focus seismicity. The seemingly contradictory observations of a young extensional marine basin surrounded by an arcuate fold-and-thrust belt, have led to competing geodynamic models (delamination and subduction). Geophysical data acquired in the past decade provide a test for these models and support a narrow east-dipping, subduction zone. Seismic refraction studies indicate oceanic crust below the western Gulf of Cadiz. Tomography of the upper mantle reveals a steep, east-dipping high P-wave velocity body, beneath Gibraltar. The anisotropic mantle fabric from SKS splitting shows arc-parallel "fast directions", consistent with toroidal flow around a narrow, westward retreating subducting slab. The accompanying WSW advance of the Rif-Betic mountain belt has constructed a thick pile of deformed sediments, an accretionary wedge, characterized by west-vergent thrust anticlines. Bathymetric swath-mapping images an asymmetric embayment at the deformation front where a 2 km high basement ridge has collided. Subduction has slowed significantly since 5 Ma, but deformation of recent sediments and abundant mud volcanoes suggest ongoing activity in the accretionary wedge. Three possible origins for this deformation are discussed; gravitational spreading, overall NW-SE convergence between Africa and Iberia and finally a WSW tectonic push from slow, but ongoing roll-back subduction. In the absence of arc volcanism and shallow dipping thrust type earthquakes, evidence in favor of present-day subduction can only be indirect and remains the object of debate. Continued activity of the subduction offers a possible explanation for great (M〉8.5) earthquakes known to affect the area, like the famous 1755 Great Lisbon earthquake. Recent GPS studies show SW motion of stations in N Morocco at velocities of 3-6 mm/yr indicating the presence of an independent block, a "Rif-Betic-Alboran" microplate, situated between Iberia and Africa
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  • 6
    Publication Date: 2014-04-24
    Description: We investigate the crustal structure of the SW Iberian margin along a 340 km-long refraction and wide-angle reflection seismic profile crossing from the central Gulf of Cadiz to the Variscan continental margin in the Algarve, Southern Portugal. The seismic velocity and crustal geometry model obtained by joint refraction and reflection travel-time inversion reveal three distinct crustal domains: the 28–30 km-thick Variscan crust in the north, a 60 km-wide transition zone offshore, where the crust abruptly thins ~ 20 km, and finally a ~ 7 km-thick and ~ 150 km-wide crustal section that appears to be oceanic in nature. The oceanic crust is overlain by a 1–3 km-thick section of Mesozoic to Eocene sediments, with an additional 3–4 km of low-velocity, unconsolidated sediments on top belonging to the Miocene age, Gulf of Cadiz imbricated wedge. The sharp transition between continental and oceanic crust is best explained by an initial rifting setting as a transform margin during the Early Jurassic that followed the continental break-up in the Central Atlantic. The narrow oceanic basin would have formed during an oblique rifting and seafloor spreading episode between Iberia and Africa that started shortly thereafter (Bajocian) and lasted up to the initiation of oceanic spreading in the North Atlantic at the Tithonian (late Jurassic-earliest Cretaceous). The velocity model displays four wide, prominent, south-dipping low-velocity anomalies, which seem to be related with the presence of crustal-scale faults previously identified in the area, some of which could well be extensional faults generated during this rifting episode. We propose that this oceanic plate segment is the last remnant of an oceanic corridor that once connected the Alpine-Tethys with the Atlantic ocean, so it is, in turn, one of the oldest oceanic crustal fragments currently preserved on Earth. The presence of oceanic crust in the central Gulf of Cadiz is consistent with geodynamic models suggesting the existence of a narrow, westward retreating oceanic slab beneath the Gibraltar arc-Alboran basin system.
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  • 7
    Publication Date: 2014-04-24
    Description: The Gorringe Bank is a gigantic seamount that separates the Horseshoe and Tagus abyssal plains offshore SW Iberia, in a zone that hosts the convergent boundary between the Africa and Eurasia plates. Although the region has been the focus of numerous investigations since the early 1970s, the lack of appropriate geophysical data makes the nature of the basement, and thus the origin of the structures, still debated. In this work, we present combined P-wave seismic velocity and gravity models along a transect that crosses the Gorringe Bank from the Tagus to the Horseshoe abyssal plains. The P-wave velocity structure of the basement is similar in the Tagus and Horseshoe plains. It shows a 2.5–3.0 km-thick top layer with a velocity gradient twice stronger than oceanic Layer 2 and an abrupt change to an underlying layer with a five-fold weaker gradient. Velocity and density is lower beneath the Gorringe Bank probably due to enhanced fracturing, that have led to rock disaggregation in the sediment-starved northern flank. In contrast to previous velocity models of this region, there is no evidence of a sharp crust–mantle boundary in any of the record sections. The modelling results indicate that the sediment overlays directly serpentinite rock, exhumed from the mantle with a degree of serpentinization decreasing from a maximum of 70–80% under the top of Gorringe Bank to less than 5% at a depth of ∼20 km. We propose that the three domains were originally part of a single serpentine rock band, of nature and possibly origin similar to the Iberia Abyssal Plain ocean–continent transition, which was probably generated during the earliest phase of the North Atlantic opening that followed continental crust breakup (Early Cretaceous). During the Miocene, the NW–SE trending Eurasia–Africa convergence resulted in thrusting of the southeastern segment of the exhumed serpentinite band over the northwestern one, forming the Gorringe Bank. The local deformation associated to plate convergence and uplift could have promoted pervasive rock fracturing of the overriding plate, leading eventually to rock disaggregation in the northern flank of the GB, which could be now a potential source of rock avalanches and tsunamis.
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  • 8
    Publication Date: 2015-10-22
    Description: The muographic imaging of volcanoes relies on the measured transmittance of the atmospheric-muon flux through the target. An important bias affecting the result comes from background contamination mimicking a higher transmittance. The MU-RAY and TOMUVOL collaborations measured independently in 2013 the atmospheric muon flux transmitted through the Puy de Dôme volcano using their early prototype detectors, based on plastic scintillators and on Glass Resistive Plate Chambers, respectively. These detectors had three (MU-RAY) or four (TOMUVOL) detection layers of 1 m 2 each, tens (MU-RAY) or hundreds (TOMUVOL) of ns time resolution, a few mm position resolution, an energy threshold of few hundreds MeV and no particle identification capabilities. The prototypes were deployed about 1.3 km away from the summit, where they measured, behind rock depths larger than 1000 m, remnant fluxes of 1.83±0.50(syst)±0.07(stat) m −2 day −1 deg −2 (MU-RAY) and 1.95±0.16(syst)±0.05(stat) m −2 day −1 deg −2 (TOMUVOL), that roughly correspond to the expected flux of high-energy atmospheric muons crossing 600 metres water equivalent (m.w.e) at 18° elevation. This implies that imaging depths larger than 500 m.w.e from 1 km away using such prototype detectors suffers from an overwhelming background. These measurements confirm that a new generation of detectors with higher momentum threshold, time-of-flight measurement and/or particle identification is needed. The MU-RAY and TOMUVOL collaborations expect shortly to operate improved detectors, suitable for a robust muographic-imaging of kilometre scale volcanoes.
    Print ISSN: 0148-0227
    Topics: Geosciences , Physics
    Published by Wiley on behalf of American Geophysical Union (AGU).
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  • 9
    Publication Date: 2007-08-01
    Print ISSN: 0012-821X
    Electronic ISSN: 1385-013X
    Topics: Geosciences , Physics
    Published by Elsevier
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  • 10
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