Arc-arc collision ongoing in the southernmost part of the Kuril trench region revealed from integrated analyses of the 1998-2000 Hokkaido Transect seismic data
Abstract:The oblique subduction of the Pacific plate beneath the southernmost part of the Kuril trench is generating a unique tectonic environment in the Hokkaido Island, Japan. In this area, the Kuril forearc sliver started to collide against Northeast (NE) Japan arc from the east at the time of middle Miocene to form the Hidaka collision zone (HCZ). This collision has been acting as a responsible factor for the westward obduction of the crustal rocks of the Kuril arc (the Hidaka metamorphic belt (HMB)) along the Hidaka main thrust (HMT) and the development of the thick foreland fold-and-thrust belt.
A multi-disciplinary project of the 1998-2000 Hokkaido Transect, crossing the northern part of the HCZ in EW direction, collected high-quality seismic data on a 227-km seismic refraction/wide-angle reflection profile and three seismic reflection lines. Reprocessing/reinterpretation for this data set revealed detailed collision structure ongoing in the northern part of the HCZ. The westward obduction of the Kuril arc crust was clearly imaged along the HMT. This obduction starts at a depth of 27-30 km, much deeper than in the southern HCZ (23-25 km). In the west of the HMT, we recognize the gently eastward dipping structure, representing the fragments of Cretaceous subduction/arc complexes or deformation interfaces branched from the HMT. The most important finding from our reprocessing is a series of reflection events at a 30-45 km depth below the obducted Kuril arc crust, which probably correspond to the lower crust/Moho within the NE Japan arc descending down to the east under the collision zone. The wide-angle reflection data indicate that the subducted NE Japan arc meets the Kuril arc 30-40 km east of the HMT at a depth of 30 km. This structural geometry well explained a weak but coherent seismic phase observed at far offsets (120-180 km) on the wide-angle reflection line.
The obtained structure shows the complicated collision style where the upper 30-km Kuril arc crust is thrust up with significant deformation. At the moment, we cannot find out the strong evidence of crustal delamination. This is in a marked contrast with the case of the southern part of the HCZ, where the upper 23-km crust is obducted at about 20 km distance from the HMT, while the remaining lower crust is descending down to the subducted Pacific plate.