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Title: The relationship between structure and seismogenic behaviour in subduction zones
Author: Bassett, Daniel Graham
ISNI:       0000 0004 5361 3759
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2014
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The largest earthquakes on Earth take place on the megathrusts of subduction zones, but the slip behavior of megathrusts is variable. This thesis considers why by conducting local, regional and global studies of the interrelationships between the structure and seismogenic behavior of subduction zones. New marine geophysical data collected from the collision zone between the Louisville Ridge seamount chain with the Tonga-Kermadec trench constrain overthrusting and subducting plate structure. Mo'unga seamount is identified beneath the outer-forearc, which calibrates the association of residual bathymetric anomalies and subducting relief, implies an E-W geometry for the subducted ridge and suggests the 200 km wide Louisville seismic gap is modulated by the sediment filled flexural moat. Spectral averaging is then applied along the Tonga-Kermadec margin and along strike variations in overthrusting plate structure are verified by wide-angle seismic transects. The remnant Tonga-Ridge occupies the inner fore-arc and residual free-air gravity anomalies constrain its latitudinal extent (north of 30.5°S), width (110±20 km) and strike (~005° south of 25°S). Plate tectonic reconstructions suggest the Lau Ridge is unmodified by subduction related erosion, <200 km of the Tonga Ridge has been eroded, and neither ridge ever occupied the southern Kermadec arc. Crustal thickness variations are thus inherited, reflecting the Cenozoic tectonic evolution of the Tonga-Kermadec-Hikurangi margin. Spectral averaging is finally applied to all subduction zones on Earth. Part one develops a global catalogue of subducting relief, which is compared with seismological and geodetic inferences of fault-slip behavior. Most seamounts are aseismic, relatively undeformed and observations are not consistent with mechanical models proposing full-decapitation. Aseismic ridges are also associated with megathrust complexity, but are of a larger wavelength and contrasting mode of isostatic compensation. Part two shows almost all intra-margin along-strike transitions in seismogenic behavior are related to pre-existing crustal structure. A paired forearc anomaly is interpreted consisting of a trench-parallel ridge landward of the deep-sea-terrace basin. The ridge crest correlates with the down-dip limit of coseismic slip and strong interplate coupling, the up- dip limit of tremor epicentres, and is interpreted as defining the boundary between the velocity-weakening and seismogenic portion of the subduction interface and the down-dip frictional transition zone. Paired anomalies may be attributed to unrecovered interseismic elastic strain, the preferential subduction erosion of the outer-forearc and/or underplating beneath the inner forearc.
Supervisor: Watts, Anthony Brian Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Earth sciences ; Earthquakes and tectonics ; Marine geology and geophysics ; Seismology ; Subduction zones ; Crustal structure ; Earthquakes ; Gravity ; Seismic reflection/refraction