Geophysical investigations in the Nankai Trough and Sumatran subduction zones
The 2004 Sumatra-Andaman and the 2011 Tohoku-Oki earthquakes demonstrate the importance of understanding subduction zone earthquakes and the faults that produce them. Faults that produce earthquakes and/or tsunamis in these systems include plate boundary megathrusts, splay faults (out of sequence thrusts), and strike-slip faults from strain partitioning. Offshore Japan, IODP Exp. 314 collected logging while drilling (LWD) data across several seismically-imaged fault splays in the Nankai Trough accretionary prism. I combine LWD resistivity data with a model of fluid invasion to compare the permeabilities of sands. My results indicate that sands within faulted zones are 2-3 orders of magnitude more permeable than similar undisturbed sands. Therefore fault zones are likely to be fluid conduits within the accretionary wedge. Fluids can affect the physical and chemical properties of the faulted material, increasing pore pressures and effectively lubricating the faults. Fluids play an important role in fault slip, but hazard analysis also requires an understanding of fault geometry and slip direction. Both Japan and Sumatra exhibit strain partitioning, where oblique convergence between tectonic plates is partitioned between the megathrust and strike-slip faults proximal to the arc. Offshore Sumatra, I combine profiles from a 2D seismic survey (SUMUT) with previous bathymetry and active seismic surveys to characterize the West Andaman Fault adjacent to the Aceh forearc Basin. Along this fault I interpret transpressional flower structures that cut older thrust faults. These flower structures indicate that the modern West Andaman Fault is a right lateral strike-slip fault and thus helps to accommodate the translational component of strain in this highly oblique subduction zone. Offshore the Kii Peninsula, Japan, I analyze a trench-parallel depression that forms a notch in the seafloor just landward of the megasplay fault system, along the seaward edge of the forearc Kumano Basin. Using a 12 km wide, 3D seismic volume, I observe vertical faults and faults which dip toward the central axis of the depression, forming apparent flower structures. The along-strike geometry of the vertical faults makes predominantly normal or thrust motion unlikely. I conclude, therefore, that this linear depression is the bathymetric expression of a transtensional fault system. While the obliquity of convergence in the Nankai Trough is small (~15 degrees), this Kumano Basin Edge Fault Zone could be due to partitioning of the plate convergent strain. The location of the West Andaman Fault and KBEFZ within the forearc may be controlled by the rheology contrast between active accretionary wedges and the more stable crust beneath forearc basins.