Faults at convergent plate boundaries are important conduits for fluid escape, and recent evidence suggests that fluid expulsion along them is both transient and heterogeneous. For the Nankai and Barbados convergent margins, we have used numerical models to investigate the long-term partitioning of expelled fluids between diffuse flow and flow along connected high-permeability fault conduits. For a simple case of spatial heterogeneity, we estimated the extent of high-permeability conduits necessary to maintain a balance between incoming and expelled fluids. For the case of transient expulsion, we constrained the duration of elevated permeability required to balance the fluid budgets. Comparison of modeled and observed geochemical profiles suggests that the initiation of connected flow conduits is delayed with respect to the time of accretion into each accretionary complex and may be related to burial below a critical depth, either where the overlying wedge is sufficiently thick to prevent fluid escape to the sea floor or where sediments behave brittlely.
Additional publication details
Fluid budgets at convergent plate margins: Implications for the extent and duration of fault-zone dilation