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Geotechnical properties of lower trench inner-slope sediments

Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/0040-1951(83)90109-9
  • Earth Science


Abstract Geotechnical property analyses on sediments recovered by DSDP drilling within select convergent margins were integrated to determine the variability in these properties along the trench inner-slope and to delineate the effects of convergence on these properties. Consolidation states range from very underconsolidated to highly overconsolidated, with preconsolidation pressures exceeding 46,000 kPa in Quaternary sediments. Underconsolidated sediments are attributed to: 1. (1) high sedimentation rates. 2. (2) low sediment permeability relative to the length of the drainage path; (3) laterally applied stresses; and (4) induced pore water pressures resulting from the subduction of pelagic sediments with high water content. Factors contributing to the state of overconsolidation include: (1) tectonically induced overpressures; (2) removal of overburden by mass movement processes. 3. (3) low sediment accumulation rates. 4. (4) age. Vertical gradients of index properties also vary greatly with the maximum gradient associated with overconsolidated sediments. Values of porosity generally exceed 30% at all margins studied, suggesting this porosity represents the minimum attainable solely by the effects of convergence. Geotechnical property results and site-specific parameters suggest two end members should be considered in the general geotechnical property model for convergent margin sediments. Clastic dominated margins form the basis for the initial geotechnical property model. These margins are characterized by thick trench sediment sequences which are folded and faulted and become progressively more deformed upslope. Convergence rates are low, and no well-developed faults or hrst and graben structures are evident on the downbending oceanic plate. Highly overconsolidated sediments and index property values which change rapidly with depth result from the slow progressive deformation of trench and lower slope sediments. Examples of clastic-dominated margins include the Nankai Trough, Aleutian Trench, and Washington continental margin. Pelagic-dominated margins have significantly different geotechnical properties and site-specific parameters. These margins are characterized by thin clastic trench sediment sequences overlying pelagic sediments on a rapidly converging oceanic plate. Well-developed faults and/or hrst and graben structures are evident on the downbending oceanic plate. Sediment deformation along the trench and lower slope appears limited. These sediments are underconsolidated and index property values change gradually but often irregularly with depth. Japan Trench and Middle America Trench-Guatemala margins are considered pelagic-dominated. Middle America Trench-Mexico appears to represent an intermediate case having characteristics of both margin types.

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