Temporal velocity variations in the northern Hikurangi margin and the relation to slow slip

TitleTemporal velocity variations in the northern Hikurangi margin and the relation to slow slip
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2022
AuthorsWang, W, Savage, MK, Yates, A, Zal, HJ, Webb, S, Boulton, C, Warren-Smith, E, Madley, M, Stern, T, Fry, B, Mochizuki, K, Wallace, L
JournalEarth and Planetary Science Letters
Date Published04/2022
Keywordsambient noise, seismic velocity variations, slow slip event, the Hikurangi subduction zone

Slow slip events (SSE) have been studied in increasing detail over the last 20 years, improving our understanding of subduction zone processes. Although the relationship between SSEs and the physical properties of their surrounding materials is still not well-understood, the northern Hikurangi margin in New Zealand is the site of relatively shallow (<10 km deep), frequent SSEs, providing excellent opportunities for near-field investigations. From September to October 2014, an SSE occurred with more than 250 mm slip, and was recorded successfully by the Hikurangi Ocean Bottom Investigation of Tremor and Slow Slip (HOBITSS) deployment. This study applies scattered wave interferometry to ambient noise data acquired by nine HOBITSS ocean bottom seismometers (OBS) to study the seismic velocity variations related to the SSE. Single station cross-component correlations are computed within a period band that focuses on the upper plate in our study region. The average velocity variations display a decrease on the order of 0.05% during the SSE, followed by an increase of similar magnitude afterwards. We suggest two possibilities. The first possibility, which has been suggested by other seismological observations, is that the SSE causes a low-permeability seal on the plate boundary to break. The break allows fluid to migrate into the upper plate, causing a seismic velocity decrease during the SSE because of increased pore fluid volume in the upper plate. Under this model, after the SSE, the fluids in the upper plate diffuse gradually and the velocity increases again. The second possibility is the velocity changes are related to changes in crustal strain during the slow slip cycle, whereby elastic strain accumulates prior to the SSE, causing contraction and reduction of porosity and therefore increase of velocity above the SSE source (the seismic velocity increases between SSEs). During the SSE the upper plate goes into extension as the elastic strain is released, which results in dilation and a porosity increase (seismic velocity reduction). After the SSE, stress and strain accumulate again, causing a porosity decrease and a velocity increase.


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