Subduction dynamics at the middle America trench : new constraints from swath bathymetry, multichannel seismic data, and 10BE
Kelly, Robyn K.
MetadataShow full item record
LocationMiddle America Trench
KeywordSubduction zones; Seismic prospecting; Marine sediments; Beryllium; Isotopes; Radioisotopes in oceanography; Maurice Ewing (Ship) Cruise EW0005; Maurice Ewing (Ship) Cruise EW0104; Sonne (Ship) CruiseSO76; Fred H. Moore (Ship) Cruise FM3502; Ida Green (Ship) Cruise IG2402
The cosmogenic radionuclide 10Be is a unique tracer of shallow sediment subduction in volcanic arcs. The range in 10Be enrichment in the Central American Volcanic Arc between Guatemala and Costa Rica is not controlled by variations in 10Be concentrations in subducting sediment seaward of the Middle America Trench. Sedimentary 10Be is correlated negatively with 143Nd/144Nd, illustrating that 10Be concentrations varied both between and within cores due to mixing between terrigenous clay and volcanic ash endmember components. This mixing behavior was determined to be a function of grain size controls on 10Be concentrations. A negative correlation of bulk sedimentary 10Be concentrations with median grain size and a positive correlation with the proportion of the sediment grains that were <32 μm in diameter demonstrated that high concentrations of 10Be in fine-grained, terrigenous sediments were diluted by larger grained volcanogenic material. The sharp decrease in 10Be enrichment in the Central American Volcanic Arc between southeastern Nicaragua and northwestern Costa Rica correlates with changes in fault structure in the subducting Cocos plate. Offshore of Nicaragua, extensional faults associated with plate bending have throw equal to or greater than the overlying subducting sediment thickness. These faults enable efficient subduction of the entire sediment package by preventing relocation of the décollement within the downgoing sediments. Offshore of Costa Rica, the reduction of fault relief results in basement faults that do not penetrate the overlying sediment. A conceptual model is proposed in which the absence of significant basement roughness allows the décollement to descend into the subducting sediment column, leading to subsequent underplating and therefore removal of the bulk of the sediment layer that contains 10Be. Basement fault relief was linearly related to plate curvature and trench depth. The systematic shoaling of the plate from southeastern Nicaragua to northwestern Costa Rica is not explained by changes in plate age for this region. Instead, it is hypothesized that the flexural shape of the plate offshore of southeastern Nicaragua and northwestern Costa Rica represents a lateral response to a buoyant load caused by the thick crust and elevated thermal regime in the Cocos plate offshore of southeastern Costa Rica.
Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution September 2003
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