Fluid venting in accretionary prisms, which feeds chemosynthetic biological communities, occurs mostly on the marginal thrust ridge. New seismic data for the marginal ridge of the Cascadia prism show significantly lower velocity than that in the adjacent oceanic basin and place important constraints on the interpretations of why fluid venting occurs mostly on the marginal ridge. We employed a finite-element method to analyze a typical fault-bend folding model to explain the phenomenon. The fault in the model is simulated by contact elements. The elements are characterized not only by finite sliding along a slide line, but also by elastoplastic deformation. We present the results of a stress analysis which show that the marginal ridge is under subhorizontal extension and the frontal thrust is under compression. This state of stress favors the growth of tensile cracks in the marginal ridge, facilitates fluid flow and reduces seismic velocities therein; on the other hand, it may close fluid pathways along the frontal thrust and divert fluid flow to the marginal ridge. ?? 1995 Birkha??user Verlag.