Home » Quantifying Geomorphology Associated With Large Subduction Zone Earthquakes. by Eugene C. Morgan
Quantifying Geomorphology Associated With Large Subduction Zone Earthquakes. Eugene C. Morgan

Quantifying Geomorphology Associated With Large Subduction Zone Earthquakes.

Eugene C. Morgan

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ISBN : 9780549709336
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71 pages
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For 30 large-earthquake generating subduction zones, I quantify forearc basin size and subducting seafloor roughness to determine if the size and shape of geomorphologic features control earthquake magnitude. The subduction of geomorphologicMoreFor 30 large-earthquake generating subduction zones, I quantify forearc basin size and subducting seafloor roughness to determine if the size and shape of geomorphologic features control earthquake magnitude. The subduction of geomorphologic features, such as ridges and seamounts, not only influences seismicity, but increases basal erosion and subsidence of the accretionary wedge, resulting in the formation of forearc basins. Many subduction zone ruptures have been associated with these basins, where a great portion of the ruptures asperities co-locate with the basins. First, I attempt to discern a relationship between forearc and subducting geomorphology by quantifying along-strike variations in the bathymetry and gravity associated with 30 different rupture zones and the sections of subducting seafloor adjacent to those rupture zones. Two parameters, determined from theoretical models fit to empirical semivariograms, characterize areas of bathymetry: the sill, which estimates the degree of relief in the terrain, and the range, which is the horizontal scale associated with the sill. For the bathymetry data, the ratio of sill to range provides us with a measure of seafloor roughness at a scale relevant to the mechanics of subduction, while for the gravity data, this ratio identifies anomalies in the gravity field, which are often associated with crustal features. I investigate the control that forearc basins and subducting bathymetric highs may have on the occurrence of large thrust earthquakes by separately comparing my rupture zone and subducting seafloor roughness measurements to the moment magnitudes of the 30 events. The forearc rupture zones consistently generate larger sills than their subducting seafloor counterparts, but no discernible correlation can be made between the two. The trench-parallel, horizontal dimension of features on the subducting seafloor expresses itself in the range values, which appear to correlate with moment magnitude. Also, I observe in the ratios of sills to ranges that the geomorphology on the subducting seafloor constrains the distribution of rupture events.