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The Moho in subduction zones

Author:
Bostock, M. G.  


Journal:
TECTONOPHYSICS


Issue Date:
2013


Abstract(summary):

The Moho in subduction zones exists in two distinct forms, one associated with the subducting oceanic plate and second with the overriding plate. The seismic expression of both forms is linked to the nature of a landward dipping, low-velocity zone (LW) that has been detected in a majority of subduction zones about the globe and that approximately coincides with Wadati-Benioff seismicity. We review seismic studies that constrain the properties of the LW in Cascadia where it has been extensively studied for over a quarter century. A model in which the LW is identified with hydrated pillow basalts and sheeted dikes of oceanic crustal Layer 2, is consistent with available geological and geophysical data, and reconciles previously conflicting interpretations. In this model, the upper oceanic crust is hydrated through intense circulation at the ridge and becomes overpressured upon subduction as a result of metamorphic dehydration reactions combined with an impermeable plate boundary above and a low porosity gabbroic Layer 3 below. The resulting seismic velocity contrast (approaching 50% for S-waves) significantly overwhelms that of a weaker, underlying oceanic Moho. At greater depths, oceanic crust undergoes eclogitization in a top-down sense leading to gradual disappearance of the LVZ. The large volume change accompanying eclogitization is postulated to rupture the plate boundary allowing fluids to penetrate the cooled, forearc mantle wedge. Pervasive serpentinization and free fluids reduce velocities within the wedge, thereby diminishing, erasing or even inverting the seismic contrast associated with the Moho of the overriding plate. This model is tested against observations of LVZs and forearc mantle structure worldwide. (C) 2012 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


Page:
547---557


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