Abstract

The initial stages of seamount subduction and associated deformation in an overriding accretionary wedge is rarely documented. Initial subduction of Bennett Knoll seamount and faulting of the overlying strata along the Hikurangi subduction margin, New Zealand, are here studied using multibeam swath bathymetry, subbottom profiles, and regional seismic reflection lines. Our results provide new insights into the earliest stages of seamount collision at sediment-rich margins. Differential shortening along the subduction front induced by seamount subduction is initially accommodated in the accretionary wedge by conjugate strike-slip faults that straddle the buried flanks of the seamount and offset the frontal thrusts by as much as 5 km. The geometries of the strike-slip faults are controlled by the seamount’s dimensions and aspect, the obliquity of plate convergence, pore-fluid pressure, and the thickness and rheology of the incoming sedimentary section. Strike-slip faults in such settings are ephemeral and overprinted by the formation of new structures as seamount subduction advances.

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