pure and applied geophysics

, Volume 129, Issue 1–2, pp 41–69 | Cite as

Morphologic and geologic effects of the subduction of bathymetric highs

  • William R. McCann
  • Ray E. Habermann


Morphologic and geologic observations suggest that subduction of bathymetric highs, such as aseismic ridges, chains of seamounts, and fracture zones, are important in the development of many forearc features and that those features form during relatively brief episodes of intense tectonism. A bathymetric high obliquely entering a subduction zone tends to compress sediments along its leading edge, resulting in arcward compression of the accretionary wedge. A landward deflection of the trench axis and a steepened inner wall result from this deformation. If a significant component of oblique slip occurs along the subduction zone, then along-strike movement of the accretionary wedge may also occur. Stresses resulting from subduction of bathymetric features with sufficient buoyancy or high relief extend farther landward than in the case of smaller, less buoyant features, inducing uplift of the leading edge of the overriding plate. Tectonic erosion of the base of the overriding plate and along-strike transport of are material may also occur. The accelerated tectonism observed along several convergent margins can be attributed to the consumption of bathymetric irregularities on the seafloor rather than temporally abrupt changes in rates and directions of plate motions or other episodic events in the accretionary prism.

Key words

Subduction tectonic erosion uplift aseismic ridges subsidence deformation 


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Copyright information

© Birkhäuser Verlag 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • William R. McCann
    • 1
  • Ray E. Habermann
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of GeologyUniversity of Puerto RicoMayagüezUSA
  2. 2.NOAA/NGDC E/GC1BoulderUSA

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