Seamount subduction and related deformation and seismicity of the continental slope off Manzanillo, Mexico, as evidenced by multibeam data

Monday, 15 December 2014
William Lee Bandy, Mariana Castillo Maldonado and Carlos A Mortera-Gutierrez, Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, Instituto de Geofisica, Mexico City, Mexico
The west coast of Mexico presents a complex pattern of deformation related to the convergence and subduction of the Rivera plate beneath the Jalisco Block/North American plate. Previous single beam bathymetric data have evidenced a large bathymetric high at 104.6218oW, 18.7123oN, in the continental slope region off Manzanillo, Mexico. One school of thought held that this high was the offshore extension of the onshore Manzanillo horst, although the two features are offset in a right-lateral sense. Alternatively, given the presence of a large positive magnetic anomaly near the bathymetric high, the high could also be caused by the collision and subsequent subduction of a large seamount. Given that the offset between the two structures was the main evidence for proposing the existence of a forearc sliver in the offshore area of the Jalisco margin, resolving the nature of this bathymetric high is quite important in our attempts to understand the plate kinematics and tectonics of this region.

Thus, to better define the deformation pattern associated with the bathymetric high, multibeam bathymetric data (obtained using the Kongsberg EM300 multibeam system), subbottom profiles (obtained using the Kongsberg TOPAS18 system), and total field magnetic data (obtained using the Geometrics G877 marine proton precession magnetometer) were collected in the continental slope region between Manzanillo, Colima, and Chamela, Jalisco, during several cruises of UNAM´s research vessel the B.O. EL PUMA. The morphology and structural deformation patterns obtained in this study indicate very clearly that a large seamount is in the process of subducting beneath the continental slope off Manzanillo. The results also indicate that not only has the seamount uplifted the slope but has resulted in slumping of the area of the slope landward of the seamount. Given these results the proposal of the existence of an independent forearc sliver in the offshore area of the southern Jalisco block needs to be reevaluated.(Funding provided by DGAPA grants IN115513, IN108110 and IN104707 and CONACyT grant 50235)