Roland Emily C.

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Emily C.

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  • Article
    Imaging along-strike variations in mechanical properties of the Gofar transform fault, East Pacific Rise
    (John Wiley & Sons, 2014-09-23) Froment, B. ; McGuire, Jeffrey J. ; van der Hilst, R. D. ; Gouedard, P. ; Roland, Emily C. ; Zhang, H. ; Collins, John A.
    A large part of global plate motion on mid-ocean ridge transform faults (RTFs) is not accommodated as major earthquakes. When large earthquakes do occur, they often repeat quasiperiodically. We focus here on the high slip rate (∼14 cm/yr) Gofar transform fault on the equatorial East Pacific Rise. This fault is subdivided into patches that slip during Mw 5.5–6 earthquakes every 5 to 6 years. These patches are separated by rupture barriers that accommodate slip through swarms of smaller events and/or aseismic creep. We performed an imaging study to investigate which spatiotemporal variations of the fault zone properties control this segmentation in mechanical behavior and could explain the specific behavior of RTFs at the global scale. We adopt a double-difference approach in a joint inversion of active air gun shots and microseismicity recorded for 1 year. This data set includes the 2008 Mw 6 Gofar earthquake. The along-strike P wave velocity structure reveals an abrupt transition between the barrier area, characterized by a damaged fault zone of 10–20% reduced Vp and a nearly intact fault zone in the asperity area. The importance of the strength of the damage zone on the mechanical behavior is supported by the temporal S wave velocity changes which suggest increased damage within the barrier area, during the week preceding the Mw 6 earthquake. Our results support the conclusion that extended highly damaged zones are the key factor in limiting the role of major earthquakes to accommodate plate motion along RTFs.
  • Article
    Earthquake swarms on transform faults
    (John Wiley & Sons, 2009-06-04) Roland, Emily C. ; McGuire, Jeffrey J.
    Swarm-like earthquake sequences are commonly observed in a diverse range of geological settings including volcanic and geothermal regions as well as along transform plate boundaries. They typically lack a clear mainshock, cover an unusually large spatial area relative to their total seismic moment release, and fail to decay in time according to standard aftershock scaling laws. Swarms often result from a clear driving phenomenon, such as a magma intrusion, but most lack the necessary geophysical data to constrain their driving process. To identify the mechanisms that cause swarms on strike-slip faults, we use relative earthquake locations to quantify the spatial and temporal characteristics of swarms along Southern California and East Pacific Rise transform faults. Swarms in these regions exhibit distinctive characteristics, including a relatively narrow range of hypocentral migration velocities, on the order of a kilometre per hour. This rate corresponds to the rupture propagation velocity of shallow creep transients that are sometimes observed geodetically in conjunction with swarms, and is significantly faster than the earthquake migration rates typically associated with fluid diffusion. The uniformity of migration rates and low effective stress drops observed here suggest that shallow aseismic creep transients are the primary process driving swarms on strike-slip faults. Moreover, the migration rates are consistent with laboratory values of the rate-state friction parameter b (0.01) as long as the Salton Trough faults fail under hydrostatic conditions.
  • Article
    Thermal-mechanical behavior of oceanic transform faults : implications for the spatial distribution of seismicity
    (American Geophysical Union, 2010-07-01) Roland, Emily C. ; Behn, Mark D. ; Hirth, Greg
    To investigate the spatial distribution of earthquakes along oceanic transform faults, we utilize a 3-D finite element model to calculate the mantle flow field and temperature structure associated with a ridge-transform-ridge system. The model incorporates a viscoplastic rheology to simulate brittle failure in the lithosphere and a non-Newtonian temperature-dependent viscous flow law in the underlying mantle. We consider the effects of three key thermal and rheological feedbacks: (1) frictional weakening due to mantle alteration, (2) shear heating, and (3) hydrothermal circulation in the shallow lithosphere. Of these effects, the thermal structure is most strongly influenced by hydrothermal cooling. We quantify the thermally controlled seismogenic area for a range of fault parameters, including slip rate and fault length, and find that the area between the 350°C and 600°C isotherms (analogous to the zone of seismic slip) is nearly identical to that predicted from a half-space cooling model. However, in contrast to the half-space cooling model, we find that the depth to the 600°C isotherm and the width of the seismogenic zone are nearly constant along the fault, consistent with seismic observations. The calculated temperature structure and zone of permeable fluid flow are also used to approximate the stability field of hydrous phases in the upper mantle. We find that for slow slipping faults, the potential zone of hydrous alteration extends greater than 10 km in depth, suggesting that transform faults serve as a significant pathway for water to enter the oceanic upper mantle.
  • Thesis
    Earthquake behavior and structure of oceanic transform faults
    (Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, 2012-02) Roland, Emily C.
    Oceanic transform faults that accommodate strain at mid-ocean ridge offsets represent a unique environment for studying fault mechanics. Here, I use seismic observations and models to explore how fault structure affects mechanisms of slip at oceanic transforms. Using teleseismic data, I find that seismic swarms on East Pacific Rise (EPR) transforms exhibit characteristics consistent with the rupture propagation velocity of shallow aseismic creep transients. I also develop new thermal models for the ridge-transform fault environment to estimate the spatial distribution of earthquakes at transforms. Assuming a temperature-dependent rheology, thermal models indicated that a significant amount of slip within the predicted temperature-dependent seismogenic area occurs without producing large-magnitude earthquakes. Using a set of local seismic observations, I consider how along-fault variation in the mechanical behavior may be linked to material properties and fault structure. I use wide-angle refraction data from the Gofar and Quebrada faults on the equatorial EPR to determine the seismic velocity structure, and image wide low-velocity zones at both faults. Evidence for fractured fault zone rocks throughout the crust suggests that unique friction characteristics may influence earthquake behavior. Together, earthquake observations and fault structure provide new information about the controls on fault slip at oceanic transform faults.
  • Article
    Fluid sources and overpressures within the central Cascadia Subduction Zone revealed by a warm, high-flux seafloor seep
    (American Association for the Advancement of Science, 2023-01-25) Philip, Brendan T. ; Solomon, Evan A. ; Kelley, Deborah S. ; Tréhu, Anne M. ; Whorley, Theresa L. ; Roland, Emily ; Tominaga, Masako ; Collier, Robert W.
    Pythia's Oasis is a newly discovered seafloor seep on the Central Oregon segment of the Cascadia Subduction Zone, where focused venting emits highly altered fluids ~9°C above the background temperature. The seep fluid chemistry is unique for Cascadia and includes extreme enrichment of boron and lithium and depletion of chloride, potassium, and magnesium. We conclude that the fluids are sourced from pore water compaction and mineral dehydration reactions with minimum source temperatures of 150° to 250°C, placing the source at or near the plate boundary offshore Central Oregon. Estimated fluid flow rates of 10 to 30 cm s are orders of magnitude higher than those estimated elsewhere along the margin and are likely driven by extreme overpressures along the plate boundary. Probable draining of the overpressured reservoir along the vertical Alvin Canyon Fault indicates the important role that such faults may play in the regulation of pore fluid pressure throughout the forearc in Central Cascadia.
  • Article
    Seismic velocity constraints on the material properties that control earthquake behavior at the Quebrada-Discovery-Gofar transform faults, East Pacific Rise
    (American Geophysical Union, 2012-11-17) Roland, Emily C. ; Lizarralde, Daniel ; McGuire, Jeffrey J. ; Collins, John A.
    Mid-ocean ridge transform faults (RTFs) vary strongly along strike in their ability to generate large earthquakes. This general observation suggests that local variations in material properties along RTFs exert a primary control on earthquake rupture dynamics. We explore these relationships by examining the seismic structure of two RTFs that have distinctly different seismic coupling. We determine the seismic velocity structure at the Gofar and Quebrada faults on the East Pacific Rise (EPR) using P wave traveltime tomography with data from two active-source wide-angle refraction lines crossing the faults. We image low-velocity zones (LVZs) at both faults, where P wave velocities are reduced by as much as 0.5–1.0 km/s (~10–20%) within a several kilometer wide region. At the Gofar fault, the LVZ extends through the entire crust, into the seismogenic zone. We rule out widespread serpentinization as an explanation for the low velocities, owing to the lack of a corresponding signal in the locally measured gravity field. The reduced velocities can be explained if the plate boundary region is composed of fault material with enhanced fluid-filled porosity (1.5–8%). Local seismic observations indicate that the high-porosity region lies within a ~10 km long portion of the fault that fails in large swarms of microearthquakes and acts as a barrier to the propagation of large (M ~ 6.0) earthquakes. Tomographic images of fault structure combined with observed earthquake behavior suggest that EPR transform segments capable of generating large earthquakes have relatively intact gabbro within the seismogenic zone, whereas segments that slip aseismically or via earthquake swarms are composed of highly fractured, ≥2 km wide damage zones that extend throughout the crust.