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PubMed | University of Minnesota, Rice University, Fundacion Venezolana de Investigaciones Sismologicas, University of Oregon and 3 more.
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Nature | Year: 2014

Whereas subduction recycling of oceanic lithosphere is one of the central themes of plate tectonics, the recycling of continental lithosphere appears to be far more complicated and less well understood. Delamination and convective downwelling are two widely recognized processes invoked to explain the removal of lithospheric mantle under or adjacent to orogenic belts. Here we relate oceanic plate subduction to removal of adjacent continental lithosphere in certain plate tectonic settings. We have developed teleseismic body wave images from dense broadband seismic experiments that show higher than expected volumes of anomalously fast mantle associated with the subducted Atlantic slab under northeastern South America and the Alboran slab beneath the Gibraltar arc region; the anomalies are under, and are aligned with, the continental margins at depths greater than 200kilometres. Rayleigh wave analysis finds that the lithospheric mantle under the continental margins is significantly thinner than expected, and that thin lithosphere extends from the orogens adjacent to the subduction zones inland to the edges of nearby cratonic cores. Taking these data together, here we describe a process that can lead to the loss of continental lithosphere adjacent to a subduction zone. Subducting oceanic plates can viscously entrain and remove the bottom of the continental thermal boundary layer lithosphere from adjacent continental margins. This drives surface tectonics and pre-conditions the margins for further deformation by creating topography along the lithosphere-asthenosphere boundary. This can lead to development of secondary downwellings under the continental interior, probably under both South America and the Gibraltar arc, and to delamination of the entire lithospheric mantle, as around the Gibraltar arc. This process reconciles numerous, sometimes mutually exclusive, geodynamic models proposed to explain the complex oceanic-continental tectonics of these subduction zones.

Carcaillet J.,Joseph Fourier University | Angel I.,Central University of Venezuela | Carrillo E.,Central University of Venezuela | Audemard F.A.,Fundacion Venezolana de Investigaciones Sismologicas | Beck C.,University of Savoy
Quaternary Research (United States) | Year: 2013

In the tropical Mérida Andes (northwestern Venezuela), glacial landforms were found at altitudes between 2600 and 5000m, corresponding to 600km2 of ice cover during the maximum glacial extension. However, the lack of sufficient absolute age data prevents detailed reconstruction of the timing of the last deglaciation. On the northwestern flank of the Mucuñuque Massif, successive moraines and striated eroded basement surfaces were sampled for cosmogenic 10Be investigation. Their compilation with published data allows the establishment of a detailed chronology of the post-LGM glacier history. The oldest moraines (18.1 and 16.8ka) correspond to the Oldest Dryas. Successive moraine ridges indicate stops in the overall retreat between the LGM and the Younger Dryas. The cold and short Older Dryas stadial has been identified. Results indicate that most of the ice withdrew during the Pleistocene. The dataset supports an intensification of the vertical retreat rate from ~25m/ka during the late Pleistocene to ~310m/ka during the Pleistocene/Holocene. Afterwards, the glacier was confined and located in the higher altitude zones. The altitude difference of the Younger Dryas moraines in the Mucubají, La Victoria and Los Zerpa valleys indicates a strong effect of valley orientation on the altitude of moraine development. © 2013 University of Washington.

Angel I.,Joseph Fourier University | Angel I.,Central University of Venezuela | Audemard M F.A.,Fundacion Venezolana de Investigaciones Sismologicas | Carcaillet J.,Joseph Fourier University | And 3 more authors.
Journal of South American Earth Sciences | Year: 2016

In the Mérida Andes, a detailed deglaciation history reconstruction is difficult to achieve due to scattered deglaciation chronologies available. This paper contributes with 24 exposure ages of glacial landforms sampled in the Gavidia valley. Exposure ages were obtained based on terrestrial cosmogenic nuclide 10Be dating. Results indicate deglaciation mainly occurred between ∼21 ka and 16.5 ka and the complete deglaciation occurred at ∼16.0 ka. The glacier retreated in two different phases. The oldest one occurred since the LGM until middle OtD or the local climate event El Caballo Stadial. The youngest phase occurred at ages younger than ∼16.5 ka until complete deglaciation. A combination of topographic features and changes in the paleoclimate conditions at the end of the El Caballo Stadial seems leaded the fastest former glacier extinction. The topographic feature which seems contributed to the fastest glacier extinction was the low valley bottom slopes. In addition, exposure ages of the Gavidia valley were integrated with deglaciation chronologies from the central Mérida Andes to compare deglaciation histories. Asynchronous deglaciation histories were observed. Local paleotemperatures and paleoprecipitations contrasts, different valleys aspects, insolation and catchments steepness could explain different deglaciation histories. © 2016 Elsevier Ltd

Meng L.,California Institute of Technology | Ampuero J.-P.,California Institute of Technology | Sladen A.,University of Nice Sophia Antipolis | Rendon H.,Fundacion Venezolana de Investigaciones Sismologicas
Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth | Year: 2012

A catastrophic Mw7 earthquake ruptured on 12 January 2010 on a complex fault system near Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Offshore rupture is suggested by aftershock locations and marine geophysics studies, but its extent remains difficult to define using geodetic and teleseismic observations. Here we perform the multitaper multiple signal classification (MUSIC) analysis, a high-resolution array technique, at regional distance with recordings from the Venezuela National Seismic Network to resolve high-frequency (about 0.4 Hz) aspects of the earthquake process. Our results indicate westward rupture with two subevents, roughly 35 km apart. In comparison, a lower-frequency finite source inversion with fault geometry based on new geologic and aftershock data shows two slip patches with centroids 21 km apart. Apparent source time functions from USArray further constrain the intersubevent time delay, implying a rupture speed of 3.3 km/s. The tips of the slip zones coincide with subevents imaged by backprojections. The different subevent locations found by backprojection and source inversion suggest spatial complementarity between high- and low-frequency source radiation consistent with high-frequency radiation originating from rupture arrest phases at the edges of main slip areas. The centroid moment tensor (CMT) solution and a geodetic-only inversion have similar moment, indicating most of the moment released is captured by geodetic observations and no additional rupture is required beyond where it is imaged in our preferred model. Our results demonstrate the contribution of backprojections of regional seismic array data for earthquakes down to M ≈ 7, especially when incomplete coverage of seismic and geodetic data implies large uncertainties in source inversions. © 2012 by the American Geophysical Union.

Laffaille J.,University of Los Andes, Venezuela | Audemard F.M.,Fundacion Venezolana de Investigaciones Sismologicas | Alvarado M.,University of Los Andes, Venezuela
Special Paper of the Geological Society of America | Year: 2010

The prime cause of the relocation of one of the first villages founded in Venezuela by Spaniards in the early seventeenth century was likely motivated by earthquakes. San Antonio de Mucuñó, located in the Merida Andes ∼200 km south-southeast of Maracaibo, was subjected to the effects of landslides triggered by a series of seismic events that took place in and around the year 1674. Historical documents, the geological and seismo-tectonic setting, and paleoseismic data support the conclusion that the earthquakes of 1674 occurred on the nearby, seismically active Bocono fault. © 2010 The Geological Society of America. All rights reserved.

Rengifo M.,University of Los Andes, Colombia | Aranguren R.,University of Los Andes, Colombia | Laffaille J.,University of Los Andes, Colombia | Ferrer C.,University of Los Andes, Colombia | Audemard F.,Fundacion Venezolana de Investigaciones Sismologicas
Boletin de Geologia | Year: 2015

A survey of total radon soil gas have been accomplished on the Boconó fault in the Merida Andes, where a segment of this active fault of ~170 km long, between the city of La Grita, in the Táchira state, and the Santo Domingo village, in Mérida state, was considered. Measurements of soil gas were taken along traverse lines perpendicular to the trace using a portable radiation monitor. The aim of this work is to characterize the diverse provinces traversed by this active fault, as well as, to evaluate the response of the method in different geological - geomorphological site conditions such as fault scarps, shutter ridges, saddles, trenches, sag ponds, depressions, landslides and an offset moraine. Along the fault trace, 36 profiles were taken and the results indicate that in 40 percent of the transects the trace was weakly detected, or not detected; the best results are in saddles and hillsides, the worst in scarps and shutter ridges. This suggests that, leaving aside the meteorological conditions, geology and geomorphology are important factors for keeping in mind when this method is applied. The relative concentration of total radon found is highest in the Mocotíes zone (Tovar - Estánques) and it is lowest in the páramo de Mucuchíes.

Morales C.,Fundacion Venezolana de Investigaciones Sismologicas | Schmitz M.,Fundacion Venezolana de Investigaciones Sismologicas | Pullammanappallil S.,Optim Software Reno Nv
Boletin de Geologia | Year: 2015

In the frame of Barquisimeto and Cabudare seismic microzoning project, we have carried out the revision of geological, geophysical and geotechnical data, with the purpose to obtain the characteristics of shallow and deep sedimentes of both Barquisimeto alluvial terrace and the Cabudare pull-a part basin. For this study, we have used data from seven refraction seismic profiles acquired previously in the area. A reinterpretation applying refraction microtremor (ReMi) method was done in Barquisimeto, which helped to define the shear wave velocity profile. In order to define a geological/geophysical model, these results were integrated with available geological and geotechnical information. The geological/geophysical model was used to calculate the surface response spectrum, useful in engineering design, taking into account the soil depth influence and its characteristics. With this information, the surface spectral response at Barquisimeto and Cabudare was calculated according to the sites conditions. On the other hand, with the acquisition of real earthquake data (Tucacas Mw = 6.4 - September 29, 2009), acquired through an accelerograph observatory installed in the frame of the microzonig project, it was possible to perform a calibration of the soil profile and spectra. Using the accelerograms from the observatory at bedrock, we calculated the spectral response at the soil surface by dynamic modeling, and the result was compared with the response spectrum acquired by the observatory at the surface, from the same earthquake, showing a good fit between both spectra form.

Cerrada M.,University of Los Andes, Colombia | Klarica S.,University of Los Andes, Colombia | Choy J.,University of Los Andes, Colombia | Guada C.,University of Los Andes, Colombia | And 8 more authors.
Boletin de Geologia | Year: 2015

To contribute to the seismic microzonation of the Mérida metropolitan area, a geophysical characterization of the soil, applying methods of ambient seismic noise, gravity and seismic refraction, is performed. From the ambient seismic noise technique, fundamental periods ranging from 0.2 to 2 seconds are obtained, which have good correlation with the sediments thicknesses, obtained from gravimetry, that shows values ranging between 12 and 130 m. The seismic refraction, through 62 seismic profiles, establishes velocity models for the shallow layers up to a maximum depth of 15 m for both P and S waves. All these results provide a basis for a preliminary microzonation map that classifies the metropolitan area into three parts: the zone 1-1 with shear wave velocities from 350 to 650 m/s and sediments thicknesses between 0 and 60 m, the zone 1-2 with shear wave velocities from 350 to 650 m/s and sediments thicknesses greater than 60 m, and the area 2-1 with shear wave velocities equal to or greater than 650 m/s and sediments thicknesses between 0 and 60 m.

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