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Large-scale deformation related to the collision of the Aleutian Arc with Kamchatka

January 1, 1994

The far western Aleutian Island Arc is actively colliding with Kamchatka. Westward motion of the Aleutian Arc is brought about by the tangential relative motion of the Pacific plate transferred to major, right-lateral shear zones north and south of the arc. Early geologic mapping of Cape Kamchatka (a promontory of Kamchatka along strike with the Aleutian Arc) revealed many similarities to the geology of the Aleutian Islands. Later studies support the notion that Cape Kamchatka is the farthest west Aleutian “island” and that it has been accreted to Kamchatka by the process of arc-continent collision. Deformation associated with the collision onshore Kamchatka includes gravimetrically determined crustal thickening and formation of a narrow thrust belt of intensely deformed rocks directly west of Cape Kamchatka. The trend of the thrust faults is concave toward the collision zone, indicating a radial distribution of maximum horizontal compressive stress. Offshore, major crustal faults trend either oblique to the Kamchatka margin or parallel to major Aleutian shear zones. These offshore faults are complex, accommodating both strike-slip and thrust displacements as documented by focal mechanisms and seismic reflection data. Earthquake activity is much higher in the offshore region within a zone bounded to the north by the northernmost Aleutian shear zone and to the west by an apparent aseismic front. Analysis of focal mechanisms in the region indicate that the present-day arc-continent “contact zone” is located directly east of Cape Kamchatka. In modeling the dynamics of the collision zone using thin viscous sheet theory, the rheological parameters are only partially constrained to values of n (the effective power law exponent) ≥ 3 and Ar(the Argand number) ≤ 30. These values are consistent with a forearc thermal profile of Kamchatka, previously determined from heat flow modeling. The thin viscous sheet modeling also indicates that onshore thrust faulting is a consequence, not only of compressive stresses resulting from the west directed collision, but also of sediment-induced coupling of the subducting Pacific plate.

Publication Year 1994
Title Large-scale deformation related to the collision of the Aleutian Arc with Kamchatka
DOI 10.1029/94TC00428
Authors Eric L. Geist, David W. Scholl
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Tectonics
Index ID 70135099
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Coastal and Marine Geology Program