skip to main content

Title: BRAVOSEIS: Geophysical investigation of rifting and volcanism in the Bransfield strait, Antarctica
The Bransfield Basin is a back-arc basin located in Western Antarctica between the South Shetland Islands and Antarctic Peninsula. Although the subduction of the Phoenix plate under the South Shetland block has ceased, extension continues through a combination of slab rollback and transtensional motions between the Scotia and Antarctic plates. This process has created a continental rift in the basin, interleaved with volcanic islands and seamounts, which may be near the transition from rifting to seafloor spreading. In the framework of the BRAVOSEIS project (2017–2020), we deployed a dense amphibious seismic network in the Bransfield Strait comprising 15 land stations and 24 ocean-bottom seismometers, as well as a network of 6 moored hydrophones; and acquired marine geophysics data including multibeam bathymetry, sub-bottom profiler, gravity & magnetics, multi-channel seismics, and seismic refraction data. The experiment has collected a unique, high quality, and multifaceted geophysical data set in the Central Bransfield Basin, with a special focus on Orca and Humpback seamounts. Preliminary results confirm that the Bransfield region has slab-related intermediate depth seismicity, with earthquake characteristics suggesting distributed extension across the rift. Gravity and magnetic highs delineate a segmented rift with along-axis variations that are consistent with increased accumulated strain to the more » northeast. Orca volcano shows evidences of an active caldera and magma accumulation at shallow depths, while Humpback volcano has evolved past the caldera stage and is currently dominated by rifting structures. These differences suggest that volcanic evolution is influenced by the position along the rift. Although a lot of analysis remains, these results provide useful constraints on the structure and dynamics of the Bransfield rift and associated volcanoes. « less
Authors:
; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; more » ; ; ; « less
Editors:
Vega, FJ
Award ID(s):
1744581
Publication Date:
NSF-PAR ID:
10290988
Journal Name:
Journal of South American earth sciences
Volume:
104
Issue:
102834
ISSN:
0895-9811
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Geologic processes at convergent plate margins control geochemical cycling, seismicity, and deep biosphere activity in subduction zones and suprasubduction zone lithosphere. International Ocean Discovery Program Expedition 366 was designed to address the nature of these processes in the shallow to intermediate depth of the Mariana subduction channel. Although no technology is available to permit direct sampling of the subduction channel of an intraoceanic convergent margin at depths up to 19 km, the Mariana forearc region (between the trench and the active volcanic arc) provides a means to access materials from this zone. Active conduits, resulting from fractures in the forearc, are prompted by along- and across-strike extension that allows slab-derived fluids and materials to ascend to the seafloor along associated faults, resulting in the formation of serpentinite mud volcanoes. Serpentinite mud volcanoes of the Mariana forearc are the largest mud volcanoes on Earth. Their positions adjacent to or atop fault scarps on the forearc are likely related to the regional extension and vertical tectonic deformation in the forearc. Serpentinite mudflows at these volcanoes include serpentinized forearc mantle clasts, crustal and subducted Pacific plate materials, a matrix of serpentinite muds, and deep-sourced formation fluid. Mud volcanism on the Mariana forearc occursmore »within 100 km of the trench, representing a range of depths and temperatures to the downgoing plate and the subduction channel. These processes have likely been active for tens of millions of years at the Mariana forearc and for billions of years on Earth. At least 19 active serpentinite mud volcanoes have been located in the Mariana forearc. Two of these mud volcanoes are Conical and South Chamorro Seamounts, which are the farthest from the Mariana Trench at 86 and 78 km, respectively. Both seamounts were cored during Ocean Drilling Program Legs 125 and 195, respectively. Data from these two seamounts represent deeper, warmer examples of the continuum of slab-derived materials as the Pacific plate subducts, providing a snapshot of how slab subduction affects fluid release, the composition of ascending fluids, mantle hydration, and the metamorphic paragenesis of subducted oceanic lithosphere. Data from the study of these two mud volcanoes constrain the pressure, temperature, and composition of fluids and materials within the subduction channel at depths of up to 19 km. Understanding such processes is necessary for elucidating factors that control seismicity in convergent margins, tectonic and magma genesis processes in the volcanic arc and backarc areas, fluid and material fluxes, and the nature and variability of environmental conditions that impact subseafloor microbial communities. Expedition 366 focused on data collection from cores recovered from three serpentinite mud volcanoes that define a continuum of subduction-channel processes to compare with results from drilling at the two previously cored serpentinite mud volcanoes and with previously collected gravity, piston, and remotely operated vehicle push cores across the trench-proximal forearc. Three serpentinite mud volcanoes (Yinazao, Fantangisña, and Asùt Tesoro) were chosen at distances 55 to 72 km from the Mariana Trench. Cores were recovered from active sites of eruption on their summit regions and on the flanks where ancient flows are overlain by more recent ones. Recovered materials show the effects of dynamic processes that are active at these sites, bringing a range of materials to the seafloor, including materials from the crust of the Pacific plate, most notably subducted seamounts (even corals). Most of the recovered material consists of serpentinite mud containing lithic clasts, which are derived from the underlying forearc crust and mantle and the subducting Pacific plate. A thin cover of pelagic sediment was recovered at many Expedition 366 sites, and at Site U1498 we cored through distal serpentinite mudflows and into the underlying pelagic sediment and volcanic ash deposits. Recovered serpentinized ultramafic rocks and mudflow matrix materials are largely uniform in major element composition, spanning a limited range in SiO2, MgO, and Fe2O3 compositions. However, variation in trace element composition reflects interstitial water composition, which differs as a function of the temperature and pressure of the underlying subduction channel. Dissolved gases H2, CH4, and C2H6 are highest at the site farthest from the trench, which also has the most active fluid discharge of the Expedition 366 serpentinite mud volcanoes. These dissolved gases and their active discharge from depth likely support active microbial communities, which were the focus of in-depth subsampling and preservation for shore-based analytical and culturing procedures. The effects of fluid discharge were also registered in the porosity and gamma ray attenuation density data indicated by higher than expected values at some of the summit sites. These higher values are consistent with overpressured fluids that slow compaction of serpentinite mud deposits. In contrast, flank sites have significantly greater decreases in porosity with depth, suggesting that processes in addition to compaction are required to achieve the observed data. Thermal measurements reveal higher heat flow values on the flanks (~31 mW/m2) than on the summits (~17 mW/m2) of the seamounts. The new 2G Enterprises superconducting rock magnetometer (liquid helium free) revealed relatively high values of both magnetization and bulk magnetic susceptibility of discrete samples related to ultramafic rocks, particularly dunite. Magnetite, a product of serpentinization, and authigenic carbonates were observed in the mudflow matrix materials. In addition to coring operations, Expedition 366 focused on the deployment and remediation of borehole casings for future observatories and set the framework for in situ experimentation. Borehole work commenced at South Chamorro Seamount, where the original-style CORK was partially removed. Work then continued at each of the three summit sites following coring operations. Cased boreholes with at least three joints of screened casing were deployed, and a plug of cement was placed at the bottom of each hole. Water samples were collected from two of the three boreholes, revealing significant inputs of formation fluids. This suggests that each of the boreholes tapped a hydrologic zone, making these boreholes suitable for experimentation with the future deployment of a CORK-Lite.« less
  2. Geologic processes at convergent plate margins control geochemical cycling, seismicity, and deep biosphere activity in subduction zones and suprasubduction zone lithosphere. International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP) Expedition 366 was designed to address the nature of these processes in the shallow to intermediate depth of the Mariana subduction channel. Although no technology is available to permit direct sampling of the subduction channel of an intraoceanic convergent margin at depths up to 18 km, the Mariana forearc region (between the trench and the active volcanic arc) provides a means to access this zone. Active conduits, resulting from fractures in the forearc, are prompted by along- and across-strike extension that allows slab-derived fluids and materials to ascend to the seafloor along associated faults, resulting in the formation of serpentinite mud volcanoes. Serpentinite mud volcanoes of the Mariana forearc are the largest mud volcanoes on Earth. Their positions adjacent to or atop fault scarps on the forearc are likely related to the regional extension and vertical tectonic deformation in the forearc. Serpentinite mudflows at these volcanoes include serpentinized forearc mantle clasts, crustal and subducted Pacific plate materials, a matrix of serpentinite muds, and deep-sourced formation fluid. Mud volcanism on the Mariana forearc occurs withinmore »100 km of the trench, representing a range of depths and temperatures to the downgoing plate and the subduction channel. These processes have likely been active for tens of millions of years at this site and for billions of years on Earth. At least 10 active serpentinite mud volcanoes have been located in the Mariana forearc. Two of these mud volcanoes are Conical and South Chamorro Seamounts, which are the furthest from the Mariana Trench at 86 and 78 km, respectively. Both seamounts were cored during Ocean Drilling Program (ODP) Legs 125 and 195, respectively. Data from these two seamounts represent deeper, warmer examples of the continuum of slab-derived materials as the Pacific plate subducts, providing a snapshot of how slab subduction affects fluid release, the composition of ascending fluids, mantle hydration, and the metamorphic paragenesis of subducted oceanic lithosphere. Data from the study of these two mud volcanoes constrain the pressure, temperature, and composition of fluids and materials within the subduction channel at depths of about 18 to 19 km. Understanding such processes is necessary for elucidating factors that control seismicity in convergent margins, tectonic and magma genesis processes in the forearc and volcanic arc, fluid and material fluxes, and the nature and variability of environmental conditions that impact subseafloor microbial communities. Expedition 366 centered on data collection from cores recovered from three serpentinite mud volcanoes that define a continuum of subduction-channel processes defined by the two previously cored serpentinite mud volcanoes and the trench. Three serpentinite mud volcanoes (Yinazao, Fantangisña, and Asùt Tesoro) were chosen at distances 55 to 72 km from the Mariana Trench. Cores were recovered from active sites of eruption on their summit regions and on the flanks where ancient flows are overlain by more recent ones. Recovered materials show the effects of dynamic processes that are active at these sites, bringing a range of materials to the seafloor, including materials from the lithosphere of the Pacific plate and from subducted seamounts (including corals). Most of the recovered material consists of serpentinite mud containing lithic clasts, which are derived from the underlying forearc crust and mantle and the subducting Pacific plate. Cores from each of the three seamounts drilled during Expedition 366, as well as those from Legs 125 and 195, include material from the underlying Pacific plate. A thin cover of pelagic sediment was recovered at many Expedition 366 sites, and at Site U1498 we cored through serpentinite flows to the underlying pelagic sediment and volcanic ash deposits. Recovered serpentinites are largely uniform in major element composition, with serpentinized ultramafic rocks and serpentinite muds spanning a limited range in SiO2 , MgO, and Fe2 O3 compositions. However, variation in trace element composition reflects pore fluid composition, which differs as a function of the temperature and pressure of the underlying subduction channel. Dissolved gases H2 , CH4 , and C2 H6 are highest at the site furthest from the trench, which also has the most active fluid discharge of the Expedition 366 serpentinite mud volcanoes. These dissolved gases and their active discharge from depth likely support active microbial communities, which were the focus of in-depth subsampling and preservation for shore-based analytical and culturing procedures. The effects of fluid discharge were also registered in the porosity and GRA density data indicated by higher than expected values at some of the summit sites. These higher values are consistent with overpressured fluids that minimize compaction of serpentinite mud deposits. In contrast, flank sites have significantly greater decreases in porosity with depth, suggesting that processes in addition to compaction are required to achieve the observed data. Thermal measurements reveal higher heat flow values on the flanks (~31 mW/m2) than on the summits (~17 mW/m2) of the seamounts. The new 2G Enterprises superconducting rock magnetometer (liquid helium free) revealed relatively high values of both magnetization and bulk magnetic susceptibility of discrete samples related to ultramafic rocks, particularly in dunite. Magnetite, a product of serpentinization, and authigenic carbonates were observed in the mudflow matrix materials. In addition to coring operations, Expedition 366 focused on the deployment and remediation of borehole casings for future observatories and set the framework for in situ experimentation. Borehole work commenced at South Chamorro Seamount, where the original-style CORK was partially removed. Work then continued at each of the three summit sites following coring operations. Cased boreholes with at least three joints of screened casing were deployed, and a plug of cement was placed at the bottom of each hole. Water samples were collected from two of the three boreholes, revealing significant inputs of formation fluids. This suggests that each of the boreholes tapped a hydrologic zone, making these boreholes suitable for experimentation with the future deployment of a CORK-lite. An active education and outreach program connected with many classrooms on shore and with the general public through social media.« less
  3. Solander Basin is characterized by subduction initiation at the Pacific-Australia plate boundary, where high biological productivity is found at the northern edge of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current. Sedimentary architecture results from tectonic in-fluences on accommodation space, sediment supply and ocean currents (via physi-ography); and climate influence on ocean currents and biological productivity. We present the first seismic-stratigraphic analysis of Solander Basin based on high-fold seismic-reflection data (voyage MGL1803, SISIE). Solander Trough physiography formed by Eocene rifting, but basinal strata are mostly younger than ca. 17Ma, when we infer Puysegur Ridge formed and sheltered Solander Basin from bottom currents, and mountain growth onshore increased sediment supply. Initial inversion on the Tauru Fault started at ca. 15Ma, but reverse faulting from 12 to ca. 8Ma on both the Tauru and Parara Faults was likely associated with reorganization and formation of the subduction thrust. The new seabed topography forced sediment pathways to be-come channelized at low points or antecedent gorges. Since 5Ma, southern Puysegur Ridge and Fiordland mountains spread out towards the east and Solander Anticline grew in response to ongoing subduction and growth of a slab. Solander Basin had high sedimentation rates because (1) it is sheltered from bottom currents by Puysegurmore »Ridge; and (2) it has a mountainous land area that supplies sediment to its northern end. Sedimentary architecture is asymmetric due to the Subtropical Front, which moves pelagic and hemi-pelagic sediment, including dilute parts of gravity flows, eastward and accretes contourites to the shelf south of Stewart Island. Levees, scours, drifts and ridges of folded sediment characterize western Solander Basin, whereas hemi-pelagic drape and secondary gravity flows are found east of the meandering axial Solander Channel. The high-resolution record of climate and tectonics that Solander Basin contains may yield excellent sites for future scientific ocean drilling.« less
  4. Solander Basin is characterized by subduction initiation at the Pacific‐Australia plate boundary, where high biological productivity is found at the northern edge of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current. Sedimentary architecture results from tectonic influences on accommodation space, sediment supply and ocean currents (via physiography); and climate influence on ocean currents and biological productivity. We present the first seismic‐stratigraphic analysis of Solander Basin based on high‐fold seismic‐reflection data (voyage MGL1803, SISIE). Solander Trough physiography formed by Eocene rifting, but basinal strata are mostly younger than ca. 17 Ma, when we infer Puysegur Ridge formed and sheltered Solander Basin from bottom currents, and mountain growth onshore increased sediment supply. Initial inversion on the Tauru Fault started at ca. 15 Ma, but reverse faulting from 12 to ca. 8 Ma on both the Tauru and Parara Faults was likely associated with reorganization and formation of the subduction thrust. The new seabed topography forced sediment pathways to become channelized at low points or antecedent gorges. Since 5 Ma, southern Puysegur Ridge and Fiordland mountains spread out towards the east and Solander Anticline grew in response to ongoing subduction and growth of a slab. Solander Basin had high sedimentation rates because (1) it is sheltered frommore »bottom currents by Puysegur Ridge; and (2) it has a mountainous land area that supplies sediment to its northern end. Sedimentary architecture is asymmetric due to the Subtropical Front, which moves pelagic and hemi‐pelagic sediment, including dilute parts of gravity flows, eastward and accretes contourites to the shelf south of Stewart Island. Levees, scours, drifts and ridges of folded sediment characterize western Solander Basin, whereas hemi‐pelagic drape and secondary gravity flows are found east of the meandering axial Solander Channel. The high‐resolution record of climate and tectonics that Solander Basin contains may yield excellent sites for future scientific ocean drilling.« less
  5. Constraining the architecture of complex 3D volcanic plumbing systems within active rifts, and their impact on rift processes, is critical for examining the interplay between faulting, magmatism and magmatic fluids in developing rift segments. The Natron basin of the East African Rift System provides an ideal location to study these processes, owing to its recent magmatic-tectonic activity and ongoing active carbonatite volcanism at Oldoinyo Lengai. Here, we report seismicity and fault plane solutions from a 10 month-long temporary seismic network spanning Oldoinyo Lengai, Naibor Soito volcanic field and Gelai volcano. We locate 6,827 earthquakes with M L −0.85 to 3.6, which are related to previous and ongoing magmatic and volcanic activity in the region, as well as regional tectonic extension. We observe seismicity down to ∼17 km depth north and south of Oldoinyo Lengai and shallow seismicity (3–10 km) beneath Gelai, including two swarms. The deepest seismicity (∼down to 20 km) occurs above a previously imaged magma body below Naibor Soito. These seismicity patterns reveal a detailed image of a complex volcanic plumbing system, supporting potential lateral and vertical connections between shallow- and deep-seated magmas, where fluid and melt transport to the surface is facilitated by intrusion of dikes and sills. Focal mechanismsmore »vary spatially. T-axis trends reveal dominantly WNW-ESE extension near Gelai, while strike-slip mechanisms and a radial trend in P-axes are observed in the vicinity of Oldoinyo Lengai. These data support local variations in the state of stress, resulting from a combination of volcanic edifice loading and magma-driven stress changes imposed on a regional extensional stress field. Our results indicate that the southern Natron basin is a segmented rift system, in which fluids preferentially percolate vertically and laterally in a region where strain transfers from a border fault to a developing magmatic rift segment.« less