Peruvian Trench to Andean Thrust Front: Evidence for Coupling of the Peruvian Flat Slab to the Over-Riding South American Plate
Abstract:In central Peru the combination of an unusually shallow Wadati-Benioff zone and lack of arc volcanism are indicators of flat slab subduction and are associated with both the ongoing subduction of the Nazca Ridge and the prior subduction of the Inca Plateau. Data from the PULSE experiment has allowed us to better constrain the geometry of the southern half of the Peruvian flat slab through analysis of teleseismic receiver functions, Pn and Sn phases from regional intermediate (>100 km depth) and deep (>500 km depth) earthquakes at the margins of the flat slab region, and teleseismic tomgraphy.
We observe a low velocity anomaly below the subducted portion of the Nazca Ridge in the teleseismic S-wave tomography. Utilizing both Pn and Sn phases from regional intermediate and deep earthquakes at the margins of the flat slab, we have found significant travel time delays for propagation paths passing through this anomaly, confirming the presence of this low velocity anomaly under the flat slab. This anomaly likely contributes to the buoyancy of this segment of the flat slab, increasing the coupling with the upper plate. Both the teleseismic tomographic and our receiver function results indicate that the southern segment of the Peruvian flat slab extends locally more than 100 km further inboard than previous estimates. As the shallow portion of the slab inboard of the subducting Nazca Ridge is largely aseismic, these new results help to better constrain the geometry of the Peruvian flat slab as it re-subducts back into the mantle. Between 10°S and 16°S the subducted oceanic crust along the inboard projection of the Nazca Ridge lies at a depth of 60 km to 70 km while subducted crust immediately north and south of the ridge projection lies at depths of 80 km to 90 km suggesting the slab is sinking north and south of the ridge. The unusually shallow depth of the slab along the ridge’s projection may indicate that the subducted Nazca Plate is coupled to the South American Plate far inboard from the trench. This coupling may be causing deformation beyond the active Andean thrust front. The Fitzcarrald Arch, a long-wavelength topographic feature along the ridge’s projection and east of the edge of Andean deformation, lies immediately inboard of our shallowest observed subducted oceanic crust and may be an example of this coupling induced deformation.