Pore pressure development and progressive dewatering in underthrust sediments at the Costa Rican subduction margin: Comparison with northern Barbados and Nankai

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Abstract

At subduction zones, pore pressure affects fault strength, deformation style, structural development, and potentially the updip limit of seismogenic faulting behavior through its control on effective stress and consolidation state. Despite its importance for a wide range of subduction zone processes, few detailed measurements or estimates of pore pressure at subduction zones exist. In this paper, I combine logging-while-drilling (LWD) data, downhole physical properties data, and laboratory consolidation tests from the Costa Rican, Nankai, and Barbados subduction zones, to document the development and downsection variability of effective stress and pore pressure within underthrust sediments as they are progressively loaded by subduction. At Costa Rica, my results suggest that the lower portion of the underthrust section remains nearly undrained, whereas the upper portion is partially drained. An inferred minimum in effective stress developed within the section ∼1.5 km landward of the trench is consistent with core and seismic observations of faulting, and illustrates the important effects of heterogeneous drainage on structural development. Inferred pore pressures at the Nankai and northern Barbados subduction zones indicate nearly undrained conditions throughout the studied intervals, and are consistent with existing direct measurements and consolidation test results. Slower dewatering at Nankai and Barbados than at Costa Rica can be attributed to higher permeability and larger compressibility of near-surface sediments underthrust at Costa Rica. Results for the three margins indicate that the pore pressure ratio (λ) in poorly drained underthrust sediments should increase systematically with distance landward of the trench, and may vary with depth.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)EPM 9-1 - 9-16
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth
Volume108
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 10 2003

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science

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