Relationships of the Seismicity at the Alaska Subduction Zone to Metamorphism and the Deep Fluid Regime


We examined the spatial distribution of intermediate-depth earthquakes in southern Alaska and the adjacent Aleutian Islands in relation to the deep fluid regime and volcanism. The distribution of earthquake hypocenters is studied in two variables, the depth of focus and the distance from the top of the slab. This approach shows that seismic activity is concentrated at 10–15 and 20–25 km from the top of the downgoing plate. Clusters of seismicity such as these cannot be due to slippage along the boundary between the continental block and the slab. In addition, extended structures of sharply increased seismic activity were found. Their location fits certain quasi-linear relations between pressure and temperature, and can mark metamorphic fronts in the subducted plate. Besides, the spatial earthquake distribution has a peak that appears to be related to active recent volcanism. It can be caused by active dehydration reactions in the subduction plate. These empirical findings testify in favor of the fluid-metamorphic model of earthquakes origin.

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This work was carried out as part of the state assignment of the IETP RAS (AAAA-A19-119011490129-0) and IMGG FEB RAS (topic AAAA-A18-118012290125-2.2). The study was supported in part by the Russian Foundation for Basic Research, project no. 19-05-00466.

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Correspondence to Margarita A. Nikitina.

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Nikitina, M.A., Rodkin, M.V. & Shmakov, I.G. Relationships of the Seismicity at the Alaska Subduction Zone to Metamorphism and the Deep Fluid Regime. Izv., Phys. Solid Earth 56, 892–899 (2020).

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  • intermediate-depth earthquakes
  • subduction zone
  • Alaska
  • metamorphism
  • dehydration reactions
  • fluid-metamorphic model of seismicity