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Keywords:

  • Nankai Trough;
  • structural restoration;
  • dewatering

A three-dimensional prestack depth-migrated seismic reflection data volume acquired off Shikoku Island, Japan covers the seaward portion of the Nankai Trough accretionary prism. We calculate and interpret total horizontal shortening lengths along three cross-sectional profiles through the volume, incorporating a technique addressing the significant amount of water volume sediments lose during accretion, constrained by porosity values derived from seismic interval velocities. The results reveal a total horizontal shortening of ∼40% within sediments of the first three thrust sheets in the wedge. This indicates that structural restorations applied to water-saturated young sediments, or other domains displaying large tectonic-induced porosity changes (e.g., accretionary prisms, subaerial and submarine fold and thrust belts), must account for the substantial amount of distributed compactive strain that affects the sediment during the initial stages of accretion. Our analysis of the porosity reduction also allows an estimate of dewatering rates across the outer accretionary wedge. We find that porosity loss and associated dewatering decrease with distance landward from the trench and correspond to a progressively decreasing contribution of diffuse compactive strain to the total shortening. We compute a dewatering rate of 10.5 km3/Ma (per km along strike) over the outer ∼7 km of the accretionary wedge. This relatively high rate of dewatering when compared to other well-studied subduction systems probably reflects the large thickness of accreted sediment and high sediment permeability that allows efficient consolidation. These results highlight the importance of considering distributed compactive strain in structural restorations for any setting where deformation occurs in sediments.