SEARCH

SEARCH BY CITATION

Keywords:

  • Seismic anisotropy;
  • Seismic tomography;
  • Subduction zone processes;
  • Fractures and faults

SUMMARY

Several trench-outer rise settings in subduction zones worldwide are characterized by a high degree of alteration, fracturing and hydration. These processes are induced by bending-related faulting in the upper part of the oceanic plate prior to its subduction. Mapping of P- and S-wave velocity structures in this complex tectonic setting provides crucial information for understanding the evolution of the incoming oceanic lithosphere, and serves as a baseline for comparison with seismic measurements elsewhere. Active source seismic investigations at the outer rise off Southern Central Chile (∼43°S) were carried out in order to study the seismic structure of the oceanic Nazca Plate. Seismic wide-angle data were used to derive 2-D velocity models of two seismic profiles located seaward of the trench axis on 14.5 Ma old crust; P01a approximately parallel to the direction of spreading and P03 approximately parallel to the spreading ridge and trench axes. We determined P- and S-velocity models using 2-D traveltime tomography. We found that the Poisson's ratio in the upper crust (layer 2) ranges between ∼0.33 at the top of the crust to ∼0.28 at the layer 2/3 interface, while in the lowermost crust and uppermost mantle it reaches values of ∼0.26 and ∼0.29, respectively. These features can be explained by an oceanic crust significantly weathered, altered and fractured. Relative high Poisson's ratios in the uppermost mantle may be likely related to partially hydrated mantle and hence serpentinization. Thus, the seismic structure of the oceanic lithosphere at the Southern Central Chile outer rise exhibits notable differences from the classic ophiolite seismic model (‘normal’ oceanic crust). These differences are primarily attributed to fracturing and hydration of the entire ocean crust, which are direct consequences of strong bending-related faulting at the outer rise. On the other hand, the comparison of the uppermost mantle P-wave velocities at the crossing point between the perpendicular profiles (∼90 km oceanward from the trench axis) reveals a low degree of Pn anisotropy (<2 per cent).