Evolution of tectonic compaction in the Barbados accretionary prism: Estimates from logging-while-drilling

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Earth and Planetary Science Letters
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Resistivity and bulk-density logs acquired while drilling are used to document the evolution of porosity, volumetric loss, and effective stress in the upper 300 m of the Barbados accretionary prism. The computed profiles across a thrust fault enable the separation of pre-, syn-, and post-accretion components; total volume loss is divided into normal consolidation (pre-accretion), tectonic volume loss (syn-accretion), and thrust fault loading (post-accretion) in the footwall. Quantitatively, the tectonic volume loss in the Barbados accretionary prism, estimated from the normal consolidation in a reference section, is as large as the pre-accretion volume loss. The compaction history of the accretionary prism is essentially controlled by the vertical displacement of the thrust and the predicted maximum volume loss throughout the prism may be extrapolated from the volume loss trend in the hanging wall. The porosity and effective stress profile at the present time is consistently larger than its corresponding syn-accretion trend and less than the extrapolated maximum from the hanging wall, The present profile is approximately equal to the average of the two curves, The remaining difference in the accretionary prism above the inferred syn-accretion trend is due to post-accretion compaction.The post-accretion volume loss is a physical feedback process due to the superposition of thrust sheets in an accretionary prism. In the case of multiple thrusts developing in a prism, the porosity and effective stress profiles are saw-toothed and approach the maximum tectonic volume loss gradient with depth. The cumulative post-accretion compaction increases with depth and becomes increasingly greater than the pre- and syn-accretion compaction with thickening of the accretionary prism. Post-accretionary loading is the dominant mechanism of volume loss and dewatering in an accretionary prism during its early stages of growth.


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