A seismic stratigraphic analysis of Mariana forearc basin evolution



New seismic data collected in the 14.5°–18.5°N Mariana segment of the Izu-Bonin-Mariana island arc system image six seismic stratigraphic sequences that can be mapped throughout the inner forearc. These sediments were most likely deposited from 35 Ma to the present. The oldest stratigraphic Units 1, 2, and 3 are syn-rift volcaniclastic deposits. Unit 4 deposits accumulated during a period of mild structural inversion, which resulted in several isolated reverse-faulted anticlines within the forearc sedimentary basin. A late period of extensional deformation began near the end of Unit 5 deposition and continued through Unit 6 sedimentation to the present. Seismic lines show that the basement of the forearc is composed of large rotated fault blocks and half grabens with NE, NW, and NNE trends. Fault offset calculations show that basement faults with dips between 45° and 50° account for only ∼4% total extension in the forearc. South of 16.3°N, normal growth faults initiated during basement extension offset the frontal arc high from a deep forearc basin. From correlations with the known geologic history, we hypothesize that extension during deposition of Units 1 through 3 corresponds to rifting of the Eo-Oligocene Arc, between ∼35 Ma and 29 Ma, older deposits being too thin to be seismically resolvable. Localized compression during Unit 4 accumulation occurred some time after Eo-Oligocene rifting in the early Miocene. Late-stage normal faulting near the end of deposition of Unit 5 and throughout Unit 6 accumulation may be associated with the opening of the Mariana Trough backarc basin from ∼8 Ma years to the present. There is a higher density of these later faults in the inner forearc between 15.5° and 17°N and in the outer forearc between 14°N and 18°N. Recent extension is at least partially accommodated by reactivation of older basement faults with the same NE, NW, and NNE- trends. Stratigraphic relationships indicate that the inner forearc south of 16.3°N has differentially subsided and tilted trenchward, possibly as a result of a recent change in subducting slab geometry or subducted relief under the forearc.