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TitleThermal models of the Mexican subduction zone: implications for the megathrust seismogenic zone
AuthorCurrie, C A; Hyndman, R D; Wang, K; Kostoglodov, V
SourceJournal of Geophysical Research vol. 107, no. B12, 2002 p. ETG 15 1-ETG 15 13, (Open Access)
Alt SeriesGeological Survey of Canada, Contribution Series 2001086
Mediapaper; on-line; digital
File formatpdf
Lat/Long WENS-106.0000 -95.0000 22.0000 14.0000
Subjectsgeophysics; structural geology; tectonics; seismic zones; subduction; subduction zones; oceanic lithosphere; oceanic crust; marine sediments; heat flow; faults, thrust; earthquakes; shear heating; shear stress; earthquake studies
Illustrationscross-sections, structural; location maps; tables; graphs; geological sketch maps
Released2002 12 26
AbstractIt has been proposed that the seismogenic zone of subduction thrust faults is primarily controlled by temperature or rock composition changes. We have developed numerical models of the thermal structure of the Mexico subduction zone to examine the factors that affect the temperature of the subduction thrust fault. Although the oceanic plates subducting beneath Mexico are young, the top of the oceanic plate at the trench is cool, because of the lack of a thick cover of insulating sediments. Marine heat flow observations suggest that hydrothermal circulation may further cool the oceanic plate. This results in a cool subduction thrust fault, where the brittle part of the fault extends to depths of over 40 km. At these depths, even slight frictional heating may have significant effects on temperature along the thrust fault, particularly for regions with a high convergence rate and shallow plate dip. With the addition of a small amount of frictional heating, the temperatures of the deep (30-40 km) thrust fault are increased by over 200°C. As the observed downdip limit of rupture in recent well-constrained megathrust earthquakes is confined to depths above the intersection of the thrust fault and the continental Moho, a temperature of 350°C may control the downdip extent of the seismogenic zone. Thus, in order to be consistent with the observed shallow rupture areas, it is necessary to include a small amount of frictional heating, corresponding to an average shear stress of 15 MPa.