The giant Ruatoria debris avalanche on the northern Hikurangi margin, New Zealand: Result of oblique seamount subduction

Type Article
Date 2001-09
Language English
Author(s) Collot Julien1, Lewis Keith2, Lamarche Geoffroy2, Lallemand Serge3
Affiliation(s) 1 : UMR Géosciences Azur, Institut de Recherche pour le Développement, Villefranche sur mer, France
2 : National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, Wellington, New-Zealand
3 : Laboratoire de Géophysique, Tectonique et Sédimentologie, Université de Montpellier II, Montpellier, France
Source Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth (01480227) (American Geophysical Union (AGU)), 2001-09 , Vol. 106 , N. B9 , P. 19271-19297
DOI 10.1029/2001JB900004
WOS© Times Cited 162

Despite convergent margins being unstable systems, most reports of huge submarine slope failure have come from oceanic volcanoes and passive margins. Swath bathymetry and seismic profiles of the northern Hikurangi subduction system, New Zealand, show a tapering 65–30 km wide by 65 km deep margin indentation, with a giant, 3150±630 km3, blocky, debris avalanche deposit projecting 40 km out across horizontal trench fill, and a debris flow deposit projecting over 100 km. Slide blocks are well‐bedded, up to 18 km across and 1.2 km high, the largest being at the avalanche deposit's leading edge. Samples dredged from them are mainly Miocene shelf calc‐mudstones similar to those outcropping around the indentation. Cores from cover beds suggest that failure occurred ∼170±40 ka, possibly synchronously with a major extension collapse in the upper indentation. However, the northern part of the indentation is much older. The steep, straight northern wall is close to the direction of plate convergence and probably formed around 2.0–0.16 Ma as a large seamount subducted, leaving in its wake a deep groove obliquely across the margin and an unstable triangle of fractured rock in the 60° angle between groove and oversteepened margin front. The triangle collapsed as a blocky avalanche, leaving a scalloped southern wall and probably causing a large tsunami. Tentative calculations of compacted volumes suggest that the indentation is over 600 km3 larger than the avalanche, supporting a two‐stage origin that includes subduction erosion. Since failure, convergence has carried the deposits ∼9 km back toward the margin, causing internal compression. The eventual subduction/accretion of the Ruatoria avalanche explains the scarcity of such features on active margins and perhaps the nature of olistostromes in fold belts.

Full Text
File Pages Size Access
Publisher's official version 27 2 MB Open access
Top of the page

How to cite 

Collot Julien, Lewis Keith, Lamarche Geoffroy, Lallemand Serge (2001). The giant Ruatoria debris avalanche on the northern Hikurangi margin, New Zealand: Result of oblique seamount subduction. Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth, 106(B9), 19271-19297. Publisher's official version : , Open Access version :