Compactive deformation of incoming calcareous pelagic sediments, northern Hikurangi subduction margin, New Zealand: Implications for subduction processes

Maomao Wang, Philip M. Barnes, Julia K. Morgan, Rebecca E. Bell, Gregory F. Moore, Ming Wang, Ake Fagereng, Heather Savage, Davide Gamboa, Robert N. Harris, Stuart Henrys, Joshu Mountjoy, Anne M. Tréhu, Demian Saffer, Laura Wallace, Katerina Petronotis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Calcareous rocks are commonly found in subduction zones, but few studies have investigated the consolidation and compactive deformation of these rocks prior to subduction, and their potential effects on subduction and accretionary processes are thus poorly understood. Using drilling data obtained during International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP) Expeditions 372 and 375 combined with 2D and 3D seismic reflection data, the structure, growth history, and slip rates of normal faults identified in the incoming pelagic sedimentary sequences of the Hikurangi Margin were investigated. A seismic coherence depth slice and vertical profiles show that these faults exhibit polygonal structure that has rarely been documented at subduction margins. The polygonal faults are closely spaced and layer-bound within sequences dominated by pelagic carbonate and calcareous mudstone of Paleocene-Pliocene age. Kinematic modeling and 2D displacement analysis reveal that fault throws decrease toward the upper and lower tipline. In detail, two groups of throw profiles are defined by locations of displacement maxima, possibly reflecting lateral variations in physical properties. The polygonal fault system (PFS) likely formed by syneresis processes that involve diagenetically induced shear failure and volumetric contraction of the pelagic unit associated with fluid escape. Fault growth sequences reveal multiple, weakly correlated intervals of contemporaneous seafloor deformation and sedimentation and allow estimates of fault slip rates. We find evidence for a significant increase in typical slip rates from 0.5-3 m/Ma during pelagic sedimentation to >20 m/Ma following the onset of terrigenous sedimentation. These observations suggest that rapid loading of the pelagic sediments by the trench-wedge facies was associated with renewed and faster growth of the PFS. The PFS will eventually be transported into the base of the accretionary wedge, enhancing geometric roughness and heterogeneity of materials along the megathrust, and providing inherited zones of weakness. Selective fault reactivation may facilitate deformation and episodic vertical fluid migration in the lower wedge associated with microearthquakes, tremor, and slow slip events.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number118022
JournalEarth and Planetary Science Letters
StatePublished - Mar 1 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Geophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)


Dive into the research topics of 'Compactive deformation of incoming calcareous pelagic sediments, northern Hikurangi subduction margin, New Zealand: Implications for subduction processes'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this