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Deformation of accretionary wedges in response to seamount subduction: Insights from sandbox experiments

Abstract : Sandbox experiments, using a two-dimensional and a three-dimensional approach, are used to study the deformation of margins in response to seamount subduction. Successive mechanisms of deformation are activated during the subduction of conical seamounts. First, reactivation of the frontal thrusts and compaction of the accretionary wedge is observed. Then, back thrusting and, conjugate strike-slip faulting develops above the leading slope of the subducted seamount. The basal d6collement is deflected upward in the wake of the subducting high, and a large shadow zone develops behind the seamount trailing slope. Consequently, frontal accretion is inhibited and part of the frontal margin is dragged into the subduction zone. When the main d6collement returns to its basal level in the wake of the seamount, the margin records a rapid subsidence and a new accretionary wedge develops, closing the margin reentrant. The sediments underthrusted in the wake of the seamount into the shadow zone, are underplated beneath the rear part of the accretionary wedge. Substantial shortening and thickening of the deformable seaward termination of the upper plate basement, associated with basal erosion is observed. Seamount subduction induces significant material transfer within the accretionary wedge, favors large tectonic erosion of the frontal margin and thickening of the rear part of the margin. The subduction and underplating of relatively undeformed, water-ladden sediments, associated with fluid expulsion along the fractures affecting the margin could modify the fluid pressure along the basal ddcollement. Consequently, significant variations of the effective basal friction and local mechanical coupling between the two plates could be expected around the subducting seamount.
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S Dominguez, J Malavieille, Serge E. Lallemand. Deformation of accretionary wedges in response to seamount subduction: Insights from sandbox experiments. Tectonics, American Geophysical Union (AGU), 2010, 19 (1), pp.192-196. ⟨10.1029/1999TC900055⟩. ⟨hal-01261523⟩

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