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The South Ecuador subduction channel: evidence for a dynamic mega-shear zone from 2D fine-scale seismic reflection imaging, implications for material transfer

Abstract : Tectonic processes that control the transition from poorly consolidated sediment entering the subduction channel (SC) to the seismogenic zone are documented using seismic imaging. We applied pre-stack depth migration and a post-processing sequence to a seismic reflection line acquired across the Ecuador convergent margin to obtain a 2D-quantitative image of the first ∼24 km of the SC. Structural interpretation shows that the SC consists of a 630-1150-m-thick, low-velocity, continuous sheet of sediment that dips ∼6° landward and undergoes shear deformation. The long sheet is bounded at top and bottom by décollement thrusts, and developed over time Riedel shears and basal thrust faulting and folding downdip, pointing to a dynamic mega-shear zone. Modeling the strong uppermost and basal SC reflectors reveals that they are associated with 40-80-m-thick, 50-350 m/s, low-velocity perturbations layers inferred to be fluid rich and mechanically weak. A fine-scale velocity model shows two anomalously low-Vp areas in the long sheet, advocating patches of over-pressured fluids. Evidence for Vp variations along the upper-plate foundation suggests either underplated bodies or a fluid-damage zone. A simple temporal reconstruction indicates that underthrusting the long sheet initiated >450 kyr ago and interrupted ∼54 ± 13 kyr ago, when frontal accretion resumed. During this transient evolution, the SC boundaries revealed highly unstable as most of the SC was underplated while down going plate material may have been sheared off and incorporated to the SC.
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Submitted on : Monday, October 25, 2021 - 3:29:43 PM
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Jean-Yves Collot, Alessandra Ribodetti, Françoise Sage, W. Agudelo. The South Ecuador subduction channel: evidence for a dynamic mega-shear zone from 2D fine-scale seismic reflection imaging, implications for material transfer. Journal of Geophysical Research, American Geophysical Union, 2011, 116, pp.B11102. ⟨10.1029/2011JB008429⟩. ⟨hal-00653256⟩

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