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The Chilean subduction zone at 38.2° S : new geophysical images derived from seismic reflection data of project TIPTEQ ; implications for the subduction channel and the seismogenic coupling zone

Micksch, U. (2008): The Chilean subduction zone at 38.2° S: new geophysical images derived from seismic reflection data of project TIPTEQ; implications for the subduction channel and the seismogenic coupling zone, PhD Thesis, (Scientific Technical Report STR ; 08/14), Potsdam : Deutsches GeoForschungsZentrum GFZ, xvii, 254 S.  p.
DOI: http://doi.org/10.2312/GFZ.b103-08149



http://gfzpublic.gfz-potsdam.de/pubman/item/escidoc:8780
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0814.pdf
(Publisher version), 25MB

Authors
Abstract
The joint project TIPTEQ (from The Incoming Plate to mega-Thrust EarthQake processes) refers to an integrated approach in order to investigate the processes active in the seismogenic coupling zone at the southern Central Chilean margin and to validate their importance for both the initiation of mega-thrust earthquakes and the evolution of the forearc. The lateral variability of these processes and related parameters is investigated along five marine corridors offshore the south Chilean continental margin. The northernmost marine transect is continued onshore with a reflection seismic survey at 38.2◦ S which crosses the hypocenter of the largest ever recorded earthquake, the 1960 Great Chilean earthquake (Mw = 9.5). The processing and structural interpretation of this high-resolution seismic data set is one major task of this thesis. Furthermore, a first-break tomography was conducted to construct a near-surface velocity model. Several tests to validate the tomographic images were conducted and the limitations of the data set and method were explored in detail. The reflection seismic transect lies in the center of an extensive geophysical program comprising magnetotelluric surveys and a large seismological network. An integrative interpretation with the results of the other geophysical groups of TIPTEQ concludes the thesis. The depth section of the TIPTEQ NVR data set shows the subducting Nasca plate below the segmented forearc and a highly reflective overriding South American plate down to a depth of 60 km. High reflectivity directly above the plate interface suggested to be associated with the existence of a subduction channel with a varying thickness of 2 - 5 km down to a depth of at least 38 km. It might continue towards depth. Local seismicity possibly defines the upper bound of the subduction channel. The continental Moho is not clearly imaged. However, one possible location is at 38 - 40 km depth given by the 1960 earthquake hypocenter. The Moho may be continued eastwards to a depth of 35 km where a prominent structure is imaged. This reflector coincides with the modeled Moho interface from a 3–D density model along the Chilean margin. The reflectivity east and above of the 1960 hypocenter area may exhibit alternative eastward continuations of the continental Moho. The position and extent of the continental mantle wedge changes accordingly. Major forearc features such as the crustal Lanalhue Fault Zone and a strong west-dipping reflector perpendicular to the plate interface can be observed. The reflectivity of the oceanic crust increases in depths below 35 km. This increase might be caused by fluid release due to the porosity collapse in basalt. The integrative interpretation links this observation with a zone of high Vp/Vs ratio calculated from the seismological velocity model. Combining all available data sets of seismological, magnetotelluric and gravimetrical findings results in a complex image of the southern Chilean subduction zone, which this thesis addresses to decode.