Oceanic mantle alteration in the trench-outer rise region of the Japan trench
Abstract:Dehydration processes and the expulsion of the water from the subducting oceanic plate affect various subduction-zone processes, including arc volcanism and generation of earthquakes and tremor. Since the amount of chemically bound water in the oceanic plate is highest in serpentinized mantle, it is important to reveal the degree of oceanic mantle serpentinization prior to subduction.
In 2009 and 2013, to reveal the structural evolution of the incoming oceanic plate prior to subduction, we conducted wide-angle seismic structural surveys in the trench-outer rise region of the Japan trench. We found P-wave velocity (Vp) within the oceanic crust and mantle gradually decreases toward the trench axis, especially beneath the well-developed horst and grabens. Generally, reduction of Vp suggests two possibilities; one is a fracturing (dry mechanism) and the other is fracturing and water penetration (wet mechanism). The Vp/Vs ratio is a key to distinguish these two possibilities.
Using P-to-S converted phases, we successfully modeled Vs within the oceanic crust by the travel-time inversion, and we found the Vp/Vs ratio within the oceanic crust gradually increases toward the trench, suggesting the water infiltration into the oceanic crust. However, it is not straightforward to determine Vs within the oceanic mantle because signal-to-noise ratio of S-wave mantle refraction was too poor to pick arrival times. Therefore, we calculated S-wave mantle refractions by assuming wide variety of Vp/Vs ratio within the oceanic mantle and compared with the observed horizontal data. Although S-wave mantle refraction was observed at only limited number of OBSs, we found that Vp/Vs ratio within the oceanic mantle did not change even in the area where mantle Vp become lower. This implies that the mantle Vp reduction in our seismic profile is mainly governed by the "dry mechanism" or mantle hydration might be confined in only topmost mantle.