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Effects of Subducting Bathymetric Highs on Variations in the Wedge Taper Angles of the Barbados Accretionary Prism

Southeast Caribbean Research Symposium Presentation
AAPG Distinguished Lecture

Author(s): Bryan Moore (presenter), Paul Mann, University of Houston

Variation in the critical taper of an accretionary prism is a function of the wedge properties, pore fluid pressure, slab dip, strength of the fault, incoming sediment thickness, and bathymetric highs. This study focusses on changes on the critical taper of the Barbados accretionary prism, the world’s largest submarine prism, in response to the oblique subduction of three, elongate, basement highs formed along Central Atlantic, oceanic fracture zones: the Tiburon Rise, the Barracuda Ridge, and the St. Lucie Rise. We map the effects of the subducting basement highs on the critical taper as defined by the acute angle created by the bathymetric slope of the prism (measured from GEBCO 2020 data) and the dip angle of the base of the prism (measured from a grid of seismic reflection data to a depth of 20 km from the sea surface as well as Slab2 subduction zone geometry models). The resulting wedge taper measurements were taken at a spacing of 200 km over a distance of 1200 km along subduction trace to reveal the effects of bathymetric highs on wedge taper angles that include: 1) closer spaced and imbricated thrust faults and associated folds along the deformation front that internally deform the prism (critical wedge angle from 1°-1.5°); 2) damming of the sediment supply along the southward slopes of the fracture zone ridges produce abrupt increases frontal accretion that in turn increases the wedge taper over short distances (critical wedge angle from 1°-0°). The constant, sweeping migration of multiple oceanic fracture ridges along the Barbados deformation front means that the prism rarely, if ever, attains a critical state of equilibrium.


Bryan Moore, University of Houston

Bryan is currently is a MSc candidate at the University of Houston. He currently is graduate research assistant, and is a member of AAPG Wildcatters at the same university.

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