Modeled Temperatures and Fluid Source Distributions for the Mexico Subduction Zone: Effects of Hydrothermal Cooling and Implications for Plate Boundary Seismic Processes
Friday, 19 December 2014
In subduction zones, spatial variations in pore fluid pressure are hypothesized to control the distribution and nature of slip behavior (e.g., “normal” earthquakes, slow slip events, non-volcanic tremor, very low frequency earthquakes) on the plate boundary fault. A primary control on the pore fluid pressure distribution in subduction zones is the distribution of fluid release from hydrous minerals in the subducting sediment and rock. The distributions of these diagenetic and metamorphic fluid sources are controlled by the pressure-temperature paths that the subducting material follows. Thus, constraining subduction zone thermal structure is required to inform conceptual models of seismic behavior. Here, we present results of thermal models for the Mexico subduction zone, a system that has received recent attention due to observations of slow-slip events and non-volcanic tremor. We model temperatures in five margin-perpendicular transects from 96 ˚W to 104 ˚W. In each transect, we examine the potential thermal effects of vigorous fluid circulation in a high permeability aquifer within the basaltic basement of the oceanic crust. In the transect at 100˚W, hydrothermal circulation cools the subducting material by up to 140 ˚C, shifting peak slab dehydration landward by ~100 km relative to previous estimates from models that do not include the effects of fluid circulation. The age of the subducting plate in the trench increases from ~3 Ma at 104 ˚W to ~18 Ma at 96 ˚W; hydrothermal circulation redistributes the most heat (and cools the system the most) where the subducting plate is youngest. For systems with <20 Ma subducting lithosphere, hydrothermal circulation in oceanic crust should be considered in estimating subduction zone temperatures and fluid source distributions.