Episodic Deep Fluid Expulsion at Mud Volcanoes in the Kumano Forearc Basin, SE Offshore Japan

Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Sebastian Hammerschmidt and Achim Kopf, MARUM, Bremen, Germany
Compressional forces at convergent margins govern a variety of processes, most prominently earthquakes, landslides and mud volcanoes in the forearc. Although all seem related to fluid pressure changes, mud volcanoes are not only characterized by expulsion of fluids, but also fluidized mud and clasts that got ripped-up during mud ascension. They hence provide information regarding mobilization depth, diagenetic overprint, and geodynamic pathways.

At the Nankai Trough subduction zone, SE offshore Japan, mud volcanism id common and supposed to be related to seismogenic processes. During MARUM Expedition SO-222 with R/V SONNE, mud volcanoes in the Kumano forearc basin were mapped, cored and sampled. By extending the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP) Kumano transect landwards, 5 new mud volcanoes were identified by multibeam mapping. Cores revealed mud breccia with semi-consolidated silt- to claystone clasts and gaseous fluid escape structures, while the hemipelagic background sediments are characterized by intercalations of turbidites, ash layers and calcareous fossils. Clasts were subject to thin-section analyses, and the cores were sampled for XRD analyses and radiocarbon dating. Clasts showed prominent deformation structures, neomorphism and pores and fractures filled with polycrystalline quartz and/or calcite cement, probably formed during deep burial and early metamorphosis. Illite crystallinity based on XRD measurements varies between 0.24 and 0.38, which implies that the material originates from the Anchizone at depths ≥ 4 km. Radiocarbon dating revealed ages between 4450 and 30300 yr cal. BP, with age reversals occurring not earlier than 17000 yr cal. BP. Radiocarbon dating beneath turbidites and ash layers found at mud volcano #9 points to an episodic occurrence of these earthquake-related features in intervals of ca. 620 yr, while the mud volcano itself remained inactive.

In summary, the preliminary results suggest that the mud volcanoes are nurtured from a reservoir within the older part of the accretionary prism, but that mud volcanic activity is less frequent than major earthquakes. Future models will focus on source depth and temperature, and might elucidate the prerequisites for fluid migration and its role in seismogenesis at the Nankai Trough subduction zone.