Heat flow in the southern Chile forearc controlled by large-scale tectonic processes

Lucia Villar-Muñoz, Jan H. Behrmann, Juan Diaz-Naveas, Dirk Klaeschen, Jens Karstens

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Between 33°S and 47°S, the southern Chile forearc is affected by the subduction of the aseismic Juan Fernandez Ridge, several major oceanic fracture zones on the subducting Nazca Plate, the active Chile Ridge spreading centre, and the underthrusting Antarctic Plate. The heat flow through the forearc was estimated using the depth of the bottom simulating reflector obtained from a comprehensive database of reflection seismic profiles. On the upper and middle continental slope along the whole forearc, heat flow is about 30-60 mW m-2, a range of values common for the continental basement and overlying slope sediments. The actively deforming accretionary wedge on the lower slope, however, in places shows heat flow reaching about 90 mW m-2. This indicates that advecting pore fluids from deeper in the subduction zone may transport a substantial part of the heat there. The large size of the anomalies suggests that fluid advection and outflow at the seafloor is overall diffuse, rather than being restricted to individual fault structures or mud volcanoes and mud mounds. One large area with very high heat flow is associated with a major tectonic feature. Thus, above the subducting Chile Ridge at 46°S, values of up to 280 mW m-2 indicate that the overriding South American Plate is effectively heated by subjacent zero-age oceanic plate material.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)185-198
Number of pages14
JournalGeo-Marine Letters
Issue number2-3
StatePublished - Jun 2014


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