A constraint on the shear stress at the Pacific-Australian plate boundary from heat flow and seismicity at the Kermadec forearc

R. Von Herzen, C. Ruppel, P. Molnar, M. Nettles, S. Nagihara, G. Ekström

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37 Scopus citations

Abstract

New heat flow measurements and relocated hypocenters that constrain the subduction geometry of the Pacific plate at the Kermadec trench yield an estimate of shear stress on the thrust fault. With the exception of a few relatively high values (>60 mW m-2) on the upper forearc region near the active volcanic ridge, most of the 64 heat flow values along two profiles across the forearc range from 20 to 40 mW m-2. Corrections for bottom water temperature variations that caused nonuniform temperature gradients were required for most measurements. The means of the most reliable values for the northern and southern profiles are 28.9 ± 5.8 mW m-2 (n=33) and 28.9 ± 7.2 mW m-2 (n=19), respectively, and the measurements show no apparent systematic variation along the profiles over the range ∼50 to 150 km distance from the trench. The means of the 10 values at each of two sites on the Pacific plate seaward of the profiles are 57.2 ± 6.3 and 60.2 ± 6.6 mW m-2. Redeterminations of focal depths and fault plane solutions of earthquakes in the vicinity of the heat flow profiles indicate thrust faulting on a plane dipping 17° ± 2°. Calculated values of heat flow for a two-dimensional analytical approximation to conduction through the upper plate, diffusion into the downgoing slab, and advection by that slab are consistent with either a uniform stress of ∼40 ± 17 MPa along the thrust fault or stress increasing linearly at ∼0.5 ± 0.2 MPa km-1 with distance from the trench axis. The comparable scatter in the heat flow measurements about those calculated from these simple stress distributions does not show one to be a better approximation than the other.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2000JB900469
Pages (from-to)6817-6833
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth
Volume106
Issue numberB4
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 10 2001

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