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Imbalanced Moment Release Within Subducting Plates During Initial Bending and Unbending

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jats:titleAbstract</jats:title>jats:pInternal deformation within the downgoing plate in subduction zones to accommodate the bending of the plate as it starts to subduct is reflected in widespread intraplate seismicity. This seismicity, extending from the outer rise and outer trench slope down to intermediate depths within the slab, exhibits a wide variety of focal mechanism types, often indicative of the accumulation and recovery of down‐dip curvature through the combination of normal‐faulting and thrust‐faulting earthquakes. In the idealized case, where the bulk internal deformation is recovered and slabs descend as a straight plate into the deeper mantle, we might expect the seismic moment released in both extension and compression to balance. However, a number of factors may complicate this: the thermal, compositional, and rheological evolution of the slab as it subducts, changes in the proportion of deformation accommodated seismically, and whether the slab undergoes any permanent deformation. These factors may result in intraslab deformation and seismicity unrelated to the slab curvature. Here, we assess earthquake moment release in intraslab settings around the world, focusing on those subduction systems with relatively simple slab geometries. Consideration of several regions around the western Pacific and eastern Indian Ocean indicates that substantially more deformation is accommodated seismically during bending than during unbending, and that in both settings, significantly more moment release reflects down‐dip extension than down‐dip compression. This suggests that, although the location of seismicity is clearly related to changes in slab curvature, there is a component of permanent, unrecovered down‐dip extension in many subducting slabs.</jats:p>



37 Earth Sciences, 3703 Geochemistry, 3705 Geology, 3706 Geophysics

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Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth

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American Geophysical Union (AGU)
Royal Society (URF\R1\180088)
UKRI | Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) (COMET)