Crustal Thermal Structure and Exhumation Rates in the Southern Alps Near the Central Alpine Fault, New Zealand
journal contributionposted on 2021-03-06, 20:48 authored by K Michailos, Rupert SutherlandRupert Sutherland, John TownendJohn Townend, Martha SavageMartha Savage
© 2020. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved. We investigate orogenic uplift rates and the thermal structure of the crust in the hanging wall of the Alpine Fault, New Zealand, using the hypocenters of 7,719 earthquakes that occurred in the central Southern Alps between late 2008 and early 2017, and previously published thermochronological data. We assume that the base of the seismogenic zone corresponds to a brittle-ductile transition at some fixed temperature, which we estimate by fitting the combined thermochronological data and distribution of seismicity using a multi-1-D approach. We find that exhumation rates vary from 1 to 8 mm/yr, with maximum values observed in the area of highest topography near Aoraki/Mount Cook, a finding consistent with previous geologic and geodetic analyses. We estimate the temperature of the brittle-ductile transition beneath the Southern Alps to be 410–430°C, which is higher than expected for Alpine Fault rocks whose bulk lithology is likely dominated by quartz. The high estimated temperatures at the base of the seismogenic zone likely reflect the unmodeled effects of high fluid pressures or strain rates.