Slab Tearing Underneath the Bransfield Strait, Antarctica
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AuthorParera Portell, Joan Antoni; Mancilla Pérez, Flor de Lis; Almendros González, Francisco Javier; Stich, Daniel
Parera-Portell, J. A., Mancilla, F. D. L., Almendros, J., Morales, J., & Stich, D. (2023). Slab tearing underneath the Bransfield Strait, Antarctica. Geophysical Research Letters, 50, e2023GL103813. [https://doi.org/10.1029/2023GL103813]
SponsorshipSpanish national projects PID2019-109608GB-100/ SRA/10.13039/501100011033; CMT2016-77315-R, the Andalusian regional project A-RNM-421-UGR18; FPI Grant PRE2020-092556 (funded by MCIN/AEI/10.13039/501100011033 and the European Social Fund)
We conduct a P-wave receiver function analysis of the Bransfield Strait (West Antarctica) to determine the lithospheric structure of this back-arc basin, thanks to 31 temporary and permanent stations. Our main finding is a 15 km tear of the Phoenix slab, coinciding with the location of the 2020–2021 Orca earthquake swarm's epicenters. Teleseismic wave modeling reveals that the two major earthquakes occurred at the base of the crust, suggesting that the swarm could have been triggered by active underplating driven by mantle flow through the slab tear. There is evidence for such an underplating layer at least under Deception Island and for a widespread low velocity zone in the mantle wedge probably undergoing partial melting. We found average crustal thickness (30.5 ± 1.0 km) and Vp/Vs (1.81 ± 0.04) values close to average extended continental crust, although results in the South Shetland Islands are significantly more heterogeneous than in the Antarctic Peninsula.