Variation of Crustal Shear Velocity Structure Along the Eastern Lau Back-Arc Spreading Center Constrained By Seafloor Compliance

Thursday, 18 December 2014
Yang Zha, Columbia University of New York, Palisades, NY, United States, Spahr C Webb, Lamont Doherty Earth Observ, Palisades, NY, United States and Robert A Dunn, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Geology and Geophysics, Honolulu, HI, United States
Measurements of seafloor compliance, the deformation under long period (typically 30-300 s) ocean wave forcing, are primarily sensitive to crustal shear velocity structure. We analyze seafloor compliance from data collected from a subset of 50 broadband Ocean Bottom Seismographs (OBS) deployed at the Eastern Lau spreading center (ELSC) from 2009 to 2010. The ELSC is a 400-km-long back-arc spreading center lying closely to the Tonga subduction trench in the southwestern Pacific. Seafloor morphology, crustal seismic structure and lava composition data show rapid variations along the ridge as the ridge migrates away from the volcanic arc front to the north, indicating a decreasing influence of the subducting slab.

We calculate seafloor compliance functions by taking the spectral transfer function between the vertical displacement and pressure signal recorded by the 4-component OBSs, which are equipped with differential pressure gauges (DPGs). In the ridge perpendicular direction, compliance amplitude vary by more than an order of magnitude from the ridge crest to older seafloor covered by sediment. Along the spreading ridge, compliance measured from on-axis sites increases southwards, indicative of a decrease in the upper crustal shear velocity possibly due to increasing porosity and a thickening extrusive layer [Jacobs et al., 2007; Dunn et al., 2013]. We apply a Markov Chain Monte Carlo method to invert the compliance functions for crustal shear velocities at various locations along the ELSC.