Crustal structure and deformation associated with seamount subduction at the north Manila Trench represented by analog and gravity modeling
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We investigated the deformation in the accretionary wedge associated with subducted seamounts in the northern Manila Trench by combining observations from seismic profiles and results from laboratory sandbox experiments. From three seismic reflection profiles oriented approximately perpendicular to the trench, we observed apparent variations in structural deformation along the trench. A number of back-thrust faults were formed in the accretionary wedge where subducted seamounts were identified. In contrast, observable back-thrusts were quite rare along the profile without seamounts, indicating that seamount subduction played an important role in deformation of the accretionary wedge. We then conducted laboratory sandbox experiments to investigate the effects of subducted seamounts on the structural deformation of the accretionary wedge. From the analog modeling results we found that seamount subduction could cause well-developed back-thrusts, gravitational collapse, and micro-fractures in the wedge. We also found that a seamount may induce normal faults in the wedge and that normal faults may be eroded by subsequent seamount subduction. In addition, we constrained the crustal structure of the South China Sea plate from modeling free-air gravity data. The dip angle of the subducting plate, which was constrained by hypocenters of available earthquakes, increased from south to north in the northern Manila Trench. We found a laterally heterogeneous density distribution of the oceanic crust according to the gravity data. The density of subducted crust is ~2.92 g/cm3, larger than that of the South China Sea crust (2.88 g/cm3).
KeywordsManila Trench Structural interpretation Deformation of upper plate Crustal structure Analog modeling Gravity inversion
This manuscript benefited from valuable discussions and comments from Ning Qiu, Jian Lin, Di Zhou and Lu Wang. We thank guest editor Peter Clift, the reviewers Hongfeng Yang and Fabio Caratori Tontini for their constructive comments that significantly improved the manuscript. This work is supported by the Major National Science and Technology Program (No. 2011ZX05025-003-005), and the Major Research plan of National Science Foundation of China (No. 91028007).
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