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Dehydration-induced earthquakes identified in a subducted oceanic slab beneath Vrancea, Romania

Thomas Ferrand 1, 2 Elena Manea 3, 4
2 Géodynamique - UMR7327
INSU - CNRS - Institut national des sciences de l'Univers, UO - Université d'Orléans : UMR7327, BRGM - Bureau de Recherches Géologiques et Minières (BRGM), ISTO - Institut des Sciences de la Terre d'Orléans - UMR7327 : UMR7327
Abstract : Abstract Vrancea, Eastern Romania, presents a significant intermediate-depth seismicity, between 60 and 170 km depth, i.e. pressures from 2 to 6.5 GPa. A debate has been lasting for decades regarding the nature of the seismic volume, which could correspond to the remnant of a subducted slab of Tethyan lithosphere or a delamination of the Carpathians lithosphere. Here we compile the entire seismicity dataset (≈ 10,000 events with 2 ≤ Mw ≤ 7.9) beneath Vrancea for P > 0.55 GPa (> 20 km) since 1940 and estimate the pressure and temperature associated with each hypocenter. We infer the pressure and temperature, respectively, from a depth-pressure conversion and from the most recent tomography-based thermal model. Pressure–temperature diagrams show to what extent these hypocentral conditions match the thermodynamic stability limits for minerals typical of the uppermost mantle, oceanic crust and lower continental crust. The stability limits of lawsonite, chloritoid, serpentine and talc minerals show particularly good correlations. Overall, the destabilization of both mantle and crustal minerals could participate in explaining the observed seismicity, but mantle minerals appear more likely with more convincing correlations. Most hypocentral conditions match relatively well antigorite dehydration between 2 and 4.5 GPa; at higher pressures, the dehydration of the 10-Å phase provides the best fit. We demonstrate that the Vrancea intermediate-depth seismicity is evidence of the current dehydration of an oceanic slab beneath Romania. Our results are consistent with a recent rollback of a W-dipping oceanic slab, whose current location is explained by limited delamination of the continental Moesian lithosphere between the Tethyan suture zone and Vrancea.
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https://hal-insu.archives-ouvertes.fr/insu-03281329
Contributor : Nathalie Pothier <>
Submitted on : Thursday, July 8, 2021 - 10:25:58 AM
Last modification on : Friday, July 9, 2021 - 4:44:48 AM

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Thomas Ferrand, Elena Manea. Dehydration-induced earthquakes identified in a subducted oceanic slab beneath Vrancea, Romania. Scientific Reports, Nature Publishing Group, 2021, 11 (1), ⟨10.1038/s41598-021-89601-w⟩. ⟨insu-03281329⟩

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