ABSTRACT

Concepts of the interaction between autogenic (e.g., flow process) and allogenic (e.g., tectonics) controls on sedimentation have advanced to a state that allows the controlling forces to be distinguished. Here we examine outcropping and subsurface Neogene deep-marine clastic systems that traversed the Hikurangi subduction margin via thrust-bounded trench-slope basins, providing an opportunity to examine the interplay of structural deformation and deep-marine sedimentation. Sedimentary logging and mapping of Miocene outcrops from the exhumed portion of the subduction wedge record heavily amalgamated, sand-rich lobe complexes, up to 200 m thick, which accumulated behind NE–SW-oriented growth structures. There was no significant deposition from low-density parts of the gravity flows in the basin center, although lateral fringes demonstrate fining and thinning indicative of deposits from low-density flows. Seismic data from the offshore portion of the margin show analogous lobate reflector geometries. These deposits accumulate into complexes up to 5 km wide, 8 km long, and 300 m thick, comparable in scale with the outcropping lobes on this margin. Mapping reveals lobe complexes that are vertically stacked behind thrusts. These results illustrate repeated trapping of the sandier parts of turbidity currents to form aggradational lobe complexes, with the finer-grained suspended load bypassing to areas downstream. However, the repeated development of lobes characterized by partial bypass implies that a feedback mechanism operates to perpetuate a partial confinement condition, via rejuvenation of accommodation. The mechanism proposed is a coupling of sediment loading and deformation rate, such that load-driven subsidence focuses stress on basin-bounding faults and perpetuates generation of accommodation in the basin, hence modulating tectonic forcing. Recognition of such a mechanism has implications for understanding the tectono-stratigraphic evolution of deep-marine fold and thrust belts and the distribution of resources within them.

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