Splay fault slip in a subduction margin, a new model of evolution

Marianne Conin and Pierre Henry and Vincent Godard and Sylvain Bourlange. ( 2012 )
in: EARTH AND PLANETARY SCIENCE LETTERS, 341 (170-175)

Abstract

In subduction zones, major thrusts called splay faults are thought to slip coseismically during large earthquakes affecting the main plate interface. We propose an analytical condition for the activation of a splay fault based on force balance calculations and suggest thrusting along the splay fault is generally conditioned by the growth of the accretionary wedge, or by the erosion of the hanging wall. In theory, normal slip on the splay fault may occur when the decollement has a very low friction coefficient seaward. Such a low friction also implies an unstable extensional state within the outer wedge. Finite element elasto-plastic calculations with a geometry based on the Nankai Kumano section were performed and confirm that this analytical condition is a valid approximation. Furthermore, localized extension at a shallow level in the splay hanging wall is observed in models for a wide range of friction coefficients (from similar to 0 to the value of internal friction coefficient of the rock, here equals to 0.4). The timing of slip established for the splay fault branch drilled on Nankai Kumano transect suggests a phase of concurrent splay and accretionary wedge growth approximate to 2 Ma to approximate to 1.5 Ma, followed by a locking of the splay approximate to 1.3 Ma. Active extension is observed in the hanging wall. This evolution can be explained by the activation of a deeper and weaker decollement, followed by an interruption of accretion. Activation of a splay as a normal fault, as hypothesized in the case of the Tohoku 2011 earthquake, can be achieved only if the friction coefficient on the decollement drops to near zero. We conclude that the tectonic stress state largely determines long-term variations of tightly related splay fault and outer decollement activity and thus influences where and how coseismic rupture ends, but that occurrence of normal slip on a splay fault requires coseismic friction reduction. (C) 2012 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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BibTeX Reference

@ARTICLE{ISI:000308624800016,
    author = { Conin, Marianne and Henry, Pierre and Godard, Vincent and Bourlange, Sylvain },
     title = { Splay fault slip in a subduction margin, a new model of evolution },
     month = { "aug" },
   journal = { EARTH AND PLANETARY SCIENCE LETTERS },
    volume = { 341 },
      year = { 2012 },
     pages = { 170-175 },
      issn = { 0012-821X },
       doi = { 10.1016/j.epsl.2012.06.003 },
  abstract = { In subduction zones, major thrusts called splay faults are thought to slip coseismically during large earthquakes affecting the main plate interface. We propose an analytical condition for the activation of a splay fault based on force balance calculations and suggest thrusting along the splay fault is generally conditioned by the growth of the accretionary wedge, or by the erosion of the hanging wall. In theory, normal slip on the splay fault may occur when the decollement has a very low friction coefficient seaward. Such a low friction also implies an unstable extensional state within the outer wedge. Finite element elasto-plastic calculations with a geometry based on the Nankai Kumano section were performed and confirm that this analytical condition is a valid approximation. Furthermore, localized extension at a shallow level in the splay hanging wall is observed in models for a wide range of friction coefficients (from similar to 0 to the value of internal friction coefficient of the rock, here equals to 0.4). The timing of slip established for the splay fault branch drilled on Nankai Kumano transect suggests a phase of concurrent splay and accretionary wedge growth approximate to 2 Ma to approximate to 1.5 Ma, followed by a locking of the splay approximate to 1.3 Ma. Active extension is observed in the hanging wall. This evolution can be explained by the activation of a deeper and weaker decollement, followed by an interruption of accretion. Activation of a splay as a normal fault, as hypothesized in the case of the Tohoku 2011 earthquake, can be achieved only if the friction coefficient on the decollement drops to near zero. We conclude that the tectonic stress state largely determines long-term variations of tightly related splay fault and outer decollement activity and thus influences where and how coseismic rupture ends, but that occurrence of normal slip on a splay fault requires coseismic friction reduction. (C) 2012 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved. }
}