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Caribbean Subduction: Seismic Imaging of Melt and Volatiles in the Lesser Antilles with joint inversion, full-waveform, and machine learning approaches

Project Description

Dense oceanic tectonic plates sink beneath buoyant continental plates at subduction zones. The ocean plate adds volatiles like water to the mantle, lowering the melting temperature, and enabling melting and eventually creating volcanoes at Earth’s surface. Subduction zones are an important part of plate tectonics, in particular regarding the input of volatiles like water to the system. The pathways of volatiles and melting in subduction zones are relatively unknown, and yet fundamental to our understanding of the forces that drive melting and dictate the location of volcanoes. This study will image fluids, volatiles and melt in the Lesser and Greater Antilles Subduction Zone using data from a new 34 instrument seismic deployment on the ocean floor and also stations located on Caribbean Islands. This is the first time Atlantic Plate subduction has been imaged at this scale and resolution. It represents an exciting opportunity to investigate an ocean plate formed at slow spreading, the role of fracture zones and detachment faulting in the downgoing plate on water storage and transport, and a large, systematic variation in ocean plate sedimentation within one system.


Rychert, C. A., K. M. Fischer, G. A. Abers, T. Plank, E. Syracuse, J. M. Protti, V.
Gonzalez, and W. Strauch (2008) Strong Along-Arc Variations in Attenuation in
the Nicaragua-Costa Rica Mantle Wedge, Geochem., Geophys., Geosyst., 9,
Q10S10, doi:10.1029/2008GC002040.

Harmon, N., P. Gerstoft, C. A. Rychert, G. A. Abers, M. Salas de la Cruz, and K. M.
Fischer (2008) Phase Velocities from Seismic Noise using Beamforming and
Cross-Correlation in Costa Rica and Nicaragua, Geophys. Res. Lett., 35, L19303,

Syracuse, E. M., G. A. Abers, K. M. Fischer, L. MacKenzie, C. A. Rychert, M. Protti,
V. Gonzales, W. Strauch (2008) Seismic Tomography and Earthquake Locations in the Nicaraguan and Costa Rican Upper Mantle, Geochem., Geophys., Geosyst., 9, doi:10.1029/2008GC001963.

How good is research at University of Southampton in Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 68.62

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