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Seismic structure and activity of the north-central Lesser Antilles subduction zone from an integrated approach: similarities with the Tohoku forearc

AuthorsLaigle, M.; Hirn, A.; Sapin, M.; Bécel, Anne CSIC ORCID; Charvis, P.; Flueh, E.; Diaz, J. CSIC ORCID ; Lebrun, J. F.; Gesret, A.; Raffaele, R.; Galvé, A.; Evain, M.; Ruiz Fernández, Mario CSIC ORCID ; Kopp, Heidrun; Bayrakci, G.; Weinzierl, W.; Hello, Y.; Lépine, Jean-Claude; Viodé, J.P.; Sachpazi, M.; Gallart Muset, Josep CSIC ORCID; Kissling, E.; Nicolich, R.
Issue Date3-Dec-2012
PublisherAmerican Geophysical Union
Citation2012 Fall Meeting, AGU, San Francisco, California, 3-7 December (2012)
AbstractThe 300 km long north-central segment of the Lesser Antilles subduction zone, including Martinique and Guadeloupe islands has been the target of a specific approach to the seismic structure and activity by a cluster of active and passive offshore-onshore seismic experiments coordinated within the ¿Thales was right¿ proposal to the European Union action (Laigle et al., Tectonophys., in rev.) The top of the subducting plate can be followed under the wide accretionary wedge by a dense grid of dip- and strike-lines of multichannel reflection seismics. This reveals the hidden updip limit of the contact of the upper plate crustal backstop thrust onto the slab. Two OBS refraction seismic profiles constrained a 26 km large crustal thickness from the volcanic arc throughout the forearc domain (Kopp et al., EPSL, 2011). These new observations imply a three times larger width of the potential interplate seismogenic zone under the marine domain of the Caribbean plate with respect to a regular intra-oceanic subduction zone, in the common assumption that the upper plate Moho contact on the slab is a proxy of its downdip limit. Towards larger depth under the mantle corner, the top of the slab imaged from the conversions of teleseismic body-waves and the locations of earthquakes from the dense temporary array of 80 OBS and land seismometers appears with kinks which increase the dip from 10-20° under the forearc domain, to 60° on the segment from 70 km depth down to under the volcanic arc. There, at 140 km depth just north of Martinique the 2007 M 7.4 earthquake, largest for half a century, was accompanied by an increased seismic activity over the whole depth range, which provides a new focused image thanks to the OBS and land deployments. A double-planed dipping slab seismicity is thus now resolved, as originally discovered in Tohoku ( NE Japan) and since in some other subduction zones. Other types of seismic activity uniquely observed in Tohoku, are resolved now here, such as ¿supraslab¿ earthquakes with normal-faulting focal mechanisms reliably located in the mantle corner and ¿deep flat-thrust¿ earthquakes at 45 km depth on the interplate fault under the Caribbean plate forearc mantle. None such types of seismicity should occur under the paradigm of a regular peridotitic mantle of the upper plate which is serpentinized by the fluids provided from the dehydrating slab beneath, and which is commonly considered as limiting the downward extent of the interplate seismic coupling. If the upper plate here comprised lithospheric segments related to the earlier formation of the Caribbean oceanic plateau by the material advection from a mantle plume, it could then be underlain by a correspondingly modified, heterogeneous mantle, which may impose regions of stick-slip behaviour on the interplate under the mantle corner among stable-gliding areas. The Tohoku 2011 M9 earthquake was unexpected not only in its slip reaching to the trench, but also in its slip reaching far under the mantle corner against the serpentinization decoupling paradigm, and its structural setting may be revisited for resolving corresponding structural heterogeneity
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