Kelly Robyn K.

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Robyn K.

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  • Thesis
    Subduction dynamics at the middle America trench : new constraints from swath bathymetry, multichannel seismic data, and 10BE
    (Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, 2003-09) Kelly, Robyn K.
    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.
  • Article
    Pulsed subduction accretion and tectonic erosion reconstructed since 2.5 Ma from the tephra record offshore Costa Rica
    (American Geophysical Union, 2005-09-27) Clift, Peter D. ; Chan, Lui-Heung ; Blusztajn, Jerzy S. ; Layne, Graham D. ; Kastner, Miriam ; Kelly, Robyn K.
    Tephra layers recovered by Ocean Drilling Program from the forearc and trench regions offshore the Nicoya Peninsula of Costa Rica allow the temporal evolution of the volcanic arc to be reconstructed since 2.5 Ma. Major and trace element analyses by microprobe methods reveal a dominant tholeiitic character and a provenance in the Costa Rican area. The tephra show long-term coherent variability in geochemistry. One tephra dated at 1.45 Ma shows minimum values in ɛ Nd and maximum Li/Y consistent with very high degrees of sediment recycling at this time. However, overall Li/Y and δ7Li increase with SiO2 content, suggesting addition of heavy Li through forearc tectonic erosion and crustal assimilation. Peak values in δ7Li starting at 1.45 Ma and lasting ∼0.5 m.y. indicate enhanced tectonic erosion of the forearc possibly caused by subduction of a seamount at 1.45 Ma. The tephra record indicates significant temporal variability in terms of sediment subduction, reconciling the geologic evidence for long-term tectonic erosion and geochemical evidence for recent sediment accretion in the modern Central American arc.