The main objective of Leg 131 was to provide data on the deformational processes and associated hydrogeology of the Nankai prism toe. Drilling succeeded, for the first time in the history of ocean drilling, in penetrating the complete sedimentary sequence to basaltic basement, reaching 1327 mbsf (metres below seafloor) with good core recovery (55%). Excellent correlation of the lithology and structure, including the frontal thrust and the decollement, with seismic reflection images was also determined.Bedding dips, faults and shear bands analyzed in the cores confirm the pattern of deformation to be mainly due to NW-SE shortening, as expected from the plate tectonic convergence vector. Below the decollement, no significant deformation features were observed, indicating that the decollement is a sharp discontinuity in stress transmission.Physical properties data show major discontinuities at the decollement, notably an increase in porosity below the latter. This may indicate excess pore pressure in the subducted section and decollement zone. A less marked increase in porosity below the frontal thrust may reflect the youthfulness of this feature. Attempts to make downhole measurements were severely hampered by unstable hole conditions, but useful constraints have been placed on the thermal regime, and some calibration of laboratory physical properties to in-situ conditions has been provided, and in-situ stress and pore pressure were measured in the uppermost sediments.Evidence of channelized fluid flows is inconclusive. No sharp geochemical signatures or unequivocal geochemical anomalies indicative of channelized fluid flow were found. Thermal measurements are not significantly different from those predicted by a purely conductive heat flow model. A signature of low chloride pore water near the decollement may partly be related to smectite diagenesis but may also be due to episodic fluid flow events. We conclude that dewatering probably occurred dominantly through diffuse flow throughout the accreted sediments at this site.
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