Analysis of offshore seismic lines suggests that a strong relationship exists between tectonic structures and fluid migration in accretionary prisms. However, only few field analogues of plumbing systems and their tectonic frameworks have been investigated in detail until now. The uplifted accretionary prism of the Hikurangi Margin (North Island, New Zealand) exposes early to late Miocene mudrocks in coastal cliffs of Cape Turnagain and in the Akitio syncline, south-east of the Pongaroa city. These outcrops display tubular carbonate concretions corresponding to complex subsurface plumbing networks of paleo-seeps within Miocene trench slope basins. We present here, new results on the spatial distribution of these tubular carbonate concretions, with particular attention to their relation to tectonic structures. In the Pongaroa area, tubular carbonate concretions in lower Miocene mudrocks occur along a N-S trend, while in middle Miocene strata they occur along a NNE-SSW direction. The N-S trend parallels a major fault zone (i.e. the Breakdown fault zone), which separates two wide synclines, the Waihoki and the Akitio synclines. During the Early-Middle Miocene, the Breakdown fault zone controlled the evolution of the Akitio trench slope basin constituting its western edge. The NNE-SSW strike parallels the axis of the Akitio syncline and is also parallel to the present-day subduction front. Our results therefore show that tubular concretions are parallel to post-Middle Miocene second order folding and thrusting in the northeastern limb of the Akitio syncline. In the Cape Turnagain area, tubular concretions occur in the western limb of the Cape Turnagain syncline, in the footwall of the major seaward-verging Cape Turnagain fault. This suggests that fluid migrations may occur not only in the crests of anticlines, as observed offshore for present-day plumbing system of cold seeps, but also in the footwalls of thrust faults. All these observations show that the spatial distribution of tubular concretions is controlled by regional tectonic structures with paleo-fluid migrations related to major deformation episodes of the accretionary prism. Thus, we distinguish three episodes events that likely triggered fluid migration leading to the formation of the tubular concretions: (1) In the Early Miocene, shortly after the onset of development of the Akitio trench slope basin, on its inner (western) edge; (2) During the late Middle Miocene, during an extensional deformation episode on the western limb of the Akitio trench slope basin; (3) At the end of the Late Miocene, during a second major shortening period at the footwall of major thrust fault, such as in the Cape Turnagain area.

You do not currently have access to this article.