Publications

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2019
Garcia, ESM, Sandwell DT, Bassett D.  2019.  Outer trench slope flexure and faulting at Pacific basin subduction zones. Geophysical Journal International. 218:708-728.   10.1093/gji/ggz155   AbstractWebsite

Flexure and fracturing of the seafloor on the outer trench wall of subduction zones reflect bending of the lithosphere beyond its elastic limit. To investigate these inelastic processes, we have developed a full nonlinear inversion approach for estimating the bending moment, curvature and outer trench wall fracturing using shipboard bathymetry and satellite altimetry-derived gravity data as constraints. Bending moments and downward forces are imposed along curved trench axes and an iterative method is used to calculate the nonlinear response for 26 sites in the circum-Pacific region having seafloor age ranging from 15 to 148Ma. We use standard thermal and yield strength envelope models to develop the nonlinear moment versus curvature relationship. Two coefficients of friction of 0.6 and 0.3 are considered and we find that the lower value provides a better overall fit to the data. The main result is that the lithosphere is nearly moment saturated at the trench axis. The effective elastic thickness of the plate on the outer trench slope is at least three times smaller than the elastic thickness of the plate before bending at the outer rise in agreement with previous studies. The average seafloor depth of the unbent plate in these 26 sites matches the Parsons & Sclater depth versus age model beyond 120Ma. We also use the model to predict the offsets of normal faults on the outer trench walls and compare this with the horst and graben structures observed by multibeam surveys. The model with the lower coefficient of friction fits the fault offset data close to the trench axis. However, the model predicts significant fracturing of the lithosphere between 75 and 150km away from the trench axis where no fracturing is observed. To reconcile these observations, we impose a thermoelastic pre-stress in the lithosphere prior to subduction. This pre-stress delays the onset of fracturing in better agreement with the data.

2015
O'Connor, JM, Hoernle K, Muller RD, Morgan JP, Butterworth NP, Hau F, Sandwell DT, Jokat W, Wijbrans JR, Stoffers P.  2015.  Deformation-related volcanism in the Pacific Ocean linked to the Hawaiian-Emperor bend. Nature Geoscience. 8:393-397.   10.1038/ngeo2416   AbstractWebsite

Ocean islands, seamounts and volcanic ridges are thought to form above mantle plumes. Yet, this mechanism cannot explain many volcanic features on the Pacific Ocean floor(1) and some might instead be caused by cracks in the oceanic crust linked to the reorganization of plate motions(1-3). A distinctive bend in the Hawaiian-Emperor volcanic chain has been linked to changes in the direction of motion of the Pacific Plate(4,5), movement of the Hawaiian plume(6-8), or a combination of both(9). However, these links are uncertain because there is no independent record that precisely dates tectonic events that affected the Pacific Plate. Here we analyse the geochemical characteristics of lava samples collected from the Musicians Ridges, lines of volcanic seamounts formed close to the Hawaiian-Emperor bend. We find that the geochemical signature of these lavas is unlike typical ocean island basalts and instead resembles mid-ocean ridge basalts. We infer that the seamounts are unrelated to mantle plume activity and instead formed in an extensional setting, due to deformation of the Pacific Plate. Ar-40/Ar-39 dating reveals that the Musicians Ridges formed during two time windows that bracket the time of formation of the Hawaiian-Emperor bend, 53-52 and 48-47 million years ago. We conclude that the Hawaiian-Emperor bend was formed by plate-mantle reorganization, potentially triggered by a series of subduction events at the Pacific Plate margins.

2013
Kaneko, Y, Fialko Y, Sandwell DT, Tong X, Furuya M.  2013.  Interseismic deformation and creep along the central section of the North Anatolian Fault (Turkey): InSAR observations and implications for rate-and-state friction properties. Journal of Geophysical Research-Solid Earth. 118:316-331.   10.1029/2012jb009661   AbstractWebsite

We present high-resolution measurements of interseismic deformation along the central section of the North Anatolian Fault (NAF) in Turkey using interferometric synthetic aperture radar data from the Advanced Land Observing Satellite and Envisat missions. We generated maps of satellite line-of-sight velocity using five ascending Advanced Land Observing Satellite tracks and one descending Envisat track covering the NAF between 31.2 degrees E and 34.3 degrees E. The line-of-sight velocity reveals discontinuities of up to similar to 5 mm/yr across the Ismetpasa segment of the NAF, implying surface creep at a rate of similar to 9 mm/yr; this is a large fraction of the inferred slip rate of the NAF (21-25 mm/yr). The lateral extent of significant surface creep is about 75 km. We model the inferred surface velocity and shallow fault creep using numerical simulations of spontaneous earthquake sequences that incorporate laboratory-derived rate and state friction. Our results indicate that frictional behavior in the Ismetpasa segment is velocity strengthening at shallow depths and transitions to velocity weakening at a depth of 3-6 km. The inferred depth extent of shallow fault creep is 5.5-7 km, suggesting that the deeper locked portion of the partially creeping segment is characterized by a higher stressing rate, smaller events, and shorter recurrence interval. We also reproduce surface velocity in a locked segment of the NAF by fault models with velocity-weakening conditions at shallow depth. Our results imply that frictional behavior in a shallow portion of major active faults with little or no shallow creep is mostly velocity weakening. Citation: Kaneko, Y., Y. Fialko, D. T. Sandwell, X. Tong, and M. Furuya (2013), Interseismic deformation and creep along the central section of the North Anatolian Fault (Turkey): InSAR observations and implications for rate-and-state friction properties, J. Geophys. Res. Solid Earth, 118, 316-331, doi: 10.1029/2012JB009661.

Crowell, BW, Bock Y, Sandwell DT, Fialko Y.  2013.  Geodetic investigation into the deformation of the Salton Trough. Journal of Geophysical Research-Solid Earth. 118:5030-5039.   10.1002/jgrb.50347   AbstractWebsite

The Salton Trough represents a complex transition between the spreading center in Baja California and the strike-slip San Andreas fault system and is one of the most active zones of deformation and seismicity in California. We present a high-resolution interseismic velocity field for the Salton Trough derived from 74 continuous GPS sites and 109 benchmarks surveyed in three GPS campaigns during 2008-2009 and previous surveys between 2000 and 2005. We also investigate small-scale deformation by removing the regional velocity field predicted by an elastic block model for Southern California from the observed velocities. We find a total extension rate of 11mm/yr from the Mesquite Basin to the southern edge of the San Andreas Fault, coupled with 15mm/yr of left-lateral shear, the majority of which is concentrated in the southern Salton Sea and Obsidian Buttes and is equivalent to 17mm/yr oriented in the direction of the San Andreas Fault. Differential shear strain is exclusively localized in the Brawley Seismic Zone, and dilatation rate indicates widespread extension throughout the zone. In addition, we infer clockwise rotation of 10 degrees/Ma, consistent with northwestward propagation of the Brawley Seismic Zone over geologic time.

2006
Wei, M, Sandwell D.  2006.  Estimates of heat flow from Cenozoic seafloor using global depth and age data. Tectonophysics. 417:325-335.   10.1016/j.tecto.2006.02.004   AbstractWebsite

The total heat output of the Earth constrains models of mantle and core dynamics. Previously published estimates (42-44 TW) have recently been questioned because the measured conductive heat flow on young oceanic lithosphere is about a factor of 2 less than the expected heat flow based on half-space cooling models. Taking the conductive ocean heat flow values at face value reduces the global heat flow from 44 to 31 TW, which has major implications for geodynamics and Earth history. To help resolve this issue, we develop a new method of estimating total oceanic heat flow from depth and age data. The overall elevation of the global ridge system, relative to the deep ocean basins, provides an independent estimate of the total heat content of the lithosphere. Heat flow is proportional to the measured subsidence rate times the heat capacity divided by the thermal expansion coefficient. The largest uncertainty in this method is due to uncertainties in the thermal expansion coefficient and heat capacity. Scalar subsidence rate is computed from gradients of depth and age grids. The method cannot be applied over very young seafloor (< 3 Ma) where age gradient is discontinuous and the assumption of isostasy is invalid. Between 3 and 66 Ma, the new estimates are in agreement with half-space cooling model. Our rnodel-independent estimate of the total heat output of Cenozoic seafloor is 18.6 to 20.5 TW, which leads to a global output of 42 to 44 TW in agreement with previous studies. (c) 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Luttrell, K, Sandwell D.  2006.  Strength of the lithosphere of the Galilean satellites. Icarus. 183:159-167.   10.1016/j.icarus.2006.01.015   AbstractWebsite

Several approaches have been used to estimate the ice shell thickness on Callisto, Ganymede, and Europa. Here we develop a method for placing a strict lower bound on the thickness of the strong part of the shell (lithosphere) using measurements of topography. The minimal assumptions are that the strength of faults in the brittle lithosphere is controlled by lithostatic pressure according to Byerlee's law and the shell has relatively uniform density and thickness. Under these conditions, the topography of the ice provides a direct measure of the bending moment in the lithosphere. This topographic bending moment Must be less than the saturation bending moment of the yield strength envelope derived front Byerlee's law. The model predicts that the topographic amplitude spectrum decreases as the square of the topographic wavelength. This explains why Europa is rugged at shorter wavelengths ( similar to 10 km) but extremely smooth, and perhaps conforming to an equipotential Surface, at longer wavelengths ( > 100 km). Previously compiled data on impact crater depth and diameter [Schenk, P.M., 2002. Nature 417, 419-421] on Europa show good agreement with the spectral decrease predicted by the model and require a lithosphere thicker than 2.5 km. A more realistic model, including a ductile lower lithosphere. requires a thickness greater than 3.5 km. Future measurements of topography in the 10-100 km wavelength hand will provide tight constraints on lithospheric strength. (c) 2006 Elsevier Inc. All riahts reserved.

1995
Schubert, G, Sandwell DT.  1995.  A Global Survey of Possible Subduction Sites on Venus. Icarus. 117:173-196.   10.1006/icar.1995.1150   AbstractWebsite

About 10,000 km of trenches in chasmata and coronae have been identified as possible sites of retrograde subduction on Venus. All the sites have narrow deep trenches elongate along strike with arcuate planforms, ridge-trench-outer rise topographic profiles typical of terrestrial subduction zones, large outer rise curvatures >10(-7) m(-1), fractures parallel to the strike of the trench on the outer trench wall and outer rise, and no cross-strike fractures across the trench. Both the northern and southern margins of Latona Corona are possible subduction sites. Identification of a major graben between the two principal outer ridges in southern Latona Corona is evidence of back-are extension in the corona; the amount of extension is estimated to be more than 2-11 km. The moment exerted by the ridges of southern Latona Corona is insufficient to bend the lithosphere into the observed outer rise shape; a negatively buoyant subducted or underthrust slab is needed. Depending on the unknown trench migration rate, lithospheric subduction can make a significant contribution to mantle cooling on Venus. Venusian chasmata could have a dual character. They may be propagating rifts near major volcanic rises, and subduction trenches far from the rises in the lowlands. Subduction and rifting may occur in close proximity on Venus, unlike on Earth. Rifting induced by hotspots on Venus may be necessary to break the lithosphere and allow subduction to occur. Such a process could result in gradual lithospheric subduction or global, episodic overturn of the lithosphere. (C) 1995 Academic Press, Inc.

1992
Sandwell, DT, Schubert G.  1992.  Evidence for Retrograde Lithospheric Subduction on Venus. Science. 257:766-770.   10.1126/science.257.5071.766   AbstractWebsite

Annular moats and outer rises around large Venus coronae such as Artemis, Latona, and Eithinoha are similar in arcuate planform and topography to the trenches and outer rises of terrestrial subduction zones. On Earth, trenches and outer rises are modeled as the flexural response of a thin elastic lithosphere to the bending moment of the subducted slab; this lithospheric flexure model also accounts for the trenches and outer rises outboard of the major coronae on Venus. Accordingly, it is proposed that retrograde lithospheric subduction may be occurring on the margins of the large Venus coronae while compensating back-arc extension is occurring in the expanding coronae interiors. Similar processes may be taking place at other deep arcuate trenches or chasmata on Venus such as those in the Dali-Diana chasmata area of eastern Aphrodite Terra.