The University of Texas logo
Locking, mass flux and topographic response at plate boundaries - the Chilean case

UTIG Seminars

Locking, mass flux and topographic response at plate boundaries
- the Chilean case

Onno Oncken
Freie Universität Berlin

Friday, 21 November, 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
Join us for coffee beginning at 10:00 a.m.
Seminar Conference Room, 10100 Burnet Road, Bldg 196-ROC, Austin, Texas 78758
Nick Hayman

Click for a Live Broadcast.

On the long term, convergent plate boundaries have been shown to be controlled by either accretion/underplating or by subduction erosion. Vertical surface motion is coupled to convergence rate - typically with an uplift rate of the coastal area ranging from 0 to +50% of convergence rate in accretive systems, and -20 to +30% in erosive systems. Vertical kinematics, however, are not necessarily linked to horizontal strain mode, i.e. upper plate shortening or extension, in a simple way. This range of kinematic behaviors - as well as their acceleration where forearcs collide with oceanic ridges/plateau - is well expressed along the Chilean plate margin.

Towards the short end of the time scale, we here find that fault motion as well as vertical motion may exhibit reversal of motion from the preseismic to the postseismic stage, and may show extensional as well as compressional deformation to temporally coexist next to each other. This complexity is suggested to be chiefly controlled by seismic cycle related forearc bending and unbending causing fault triggering in the upper plate, a mechanism unique to forearcs. In addition, the short term deformation time end appears to exhibit a close correlation with the frictional properties and geodetic locking at the plate interface. Corroborating analogue experiments of strain accumulation during multiple earthquake cycles, forearc deformation and uplift focus above the downdip and updip end of seismic coupling and slip and are each related to a particular stage of the seismic cycle, but with opposite trends for both domains. Similarly, barriers separating locked domains along strike appear to accumulate most upper plate faulting interseismically. Hence, locking patters are reflected in topography. From the long-term memory contained in the forearc topography the relief of the Chilean forearc seems to reflect long term stability of the observed heterogeneity of locking at the plate interface. Finally, the nature of locking at the plate interface controlling the above kinematic behavior appears to be strongly controlled by the degree of fluid overpressuring at the plate interface suggesting that the hydraulic system at the interface takes a key role for forearc response.