Surface heat flow has been observed to be highly variable in the Nankai subduction margin. This study presents an investigation of local anomalies in surface heat flows on the undulating seafloor in the Nankai subduction margin. We estimate the heat flows from bottom-simulating reflectors (BSRs) marking the lower boundaries of the methane hydrate stability zone and evaluate topographic effects on heat flow via two-dimensional thermal modeling. BSRs have been used to estimate heat flows based on the known stability characteristics of methane hydrates under low-temperature and high-pressure conditions. First, we generate an extensive map of the distribution and subseafloor depths of the BSRs in the Nankai subduction margin. We confirm that BSRs exist at the toe of the accretionary prism and the trough floor of the offshore Tokai region, where BSRs had previously been thought to be absent. Second, we calculate the BSR-derived heat flow and evaluate the associated errors. We conclude that the total uncertainty of the BSR-derived heat flow should be within 25%, considering allowable ranges in the P-wave velocity, which influences the time-to-depth conversion of the BSR position in seismic images, the resultant geothermal gradient, and thermal resistance. Finally, we model a two-dimensional thermal structure by comparing the temperatures at the observed BSR depths with the calculated temperatures at the same depths. The thermal modeling reveals that most local variations in BSR depth over the undulating seafloor can be explained by topographic effects. Those areas that cannot be explained by topographic effects can be mainly attributed to advective fluid flow, regional rapid sedimentation, or erosion. Our spatial distribution of heat flow data provides indispensable basic data for numerical studies of subduction zone modeling to evaluate margin parallel age dependencies of subducting plates.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Space and Planetary Science