Modeling the Effects of Geologic Heterogeneity and Metamorphic Dehydration on Slow Slip and Shallow Deformation in Subduction Zones
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Slow slip and tectonic tremor in subduction zones take place at depths (~20 - 50 km) where there is abundant evidence for distributed shear over broad zones (~10 - 10^3 m) composed of rocks with marked differences in mechanical properties and for near lithostatic pore pressures along the plate interface where the main source of fluids must be attributed to chemical dehydration reactions. In Chapter II, I model quasi-dynamic rupture along faults composed of material mixtures characterized by different rate-and-state-dependent frictional properties to determine the parameter regime capable of producing slow slip in an idealized subduction zone setting. Keeping other parameters fixed, the relative proportions of velocity-weakening (VW) and velocity-strengthening (VS) materials control the sliding character (stable, slow, or dynamic) along the fault. The stability boundary between slow and dynamic is accurately described by linear analysis of a double spring-slider system with VW and VS blocks. In Chapter III, I model viscoelastic compaction of material subducting through the slow slip and tremor zone in the presence of pressure and temperature-dependent dehydration reactions. A dehydration fluid source is included using 1) a generalized basalt dehydration reaction in subducting oceanic crust or 2) a general nonlinear kinetic reaction rate law parameterized for an antigorite dehydration reaction. Pore pressures in excess of lithostatic values are a robust feature of simulations that employ parameters consistent with the geometry of the Cascadia subduction margin. Simulations that include viscous deformation uniformly generate traveling porosity waves that transport increased fluid pressures within the slow slip region. Slow slip and tremor also occur in shallow (< 10 km depth) accretionary prism sections of subduction zones. In Chapter IV, I examine how geologic heterogeneities affect the mechanics of accretionary prisms in subduction zones by showing how spatial variations in pore pressure, porosity, and internal friction coefficient affect predictions of basal shear stress, taper angle, and internal slip surface geometry. My results suggest that assuming average porosity throughout the prism may be a good approximation in many cases, but assuming an average value for the pore pressure can cause significant errors. This dissertation includes previously published and unpublished coauthored material.