Subduction of the Woodlark Basin at New Britain Trench, Solomon Islands region

Shinji Yoneshima, Kimihiro Mochizuki, Eiichiro Araki, Ryota Hino, Masanao Shinohara, Kiyoshi Suyehiro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


The Woodlark Basin, located south of the Solomon Islands arc region, is a young (∼5 Ma) oceanic basin that subducts beneath the New Britain Trench. This region is one of only a few subduction zones in the world where it is possible to study a young plate subduction of several Ma. To obtain the image of the subducting slab at the western side of the Woodlark Basin, a 40-day Ocean Bottom Seismometer (OBS) survey was conducted in 1998 to detect the micro-seismic activity. It was the first time such a survey had been performed in this location and over 600 hypocenters were located. The seismic activity is concentrated at the 10-60 km depth range along the plate boundary. The upper limit just about coincides with the leading edge of the accretionary wedge. The upper limit boundary was identified as the up-dip limit of the seismogenic zone, whereas the down-dip limit of the seismogenic zone was difficult to define. The dip angle of the plate at the high seismicity zone was found to average about 30°. Using the Cascadia subduction zone for comparison, which is a typical example of a young plate subduction, suggests that the subduction of the Woodlark Basin was differentiated by a high dip angle and rather landward location of the seismic front from the trench axis (30 km landward from the trench axis). Furthermore, as pointed out by previous researchers, the convergent margin of the Solomon Islands region is imposed with a high stress state, probably due to the collision of the Ontong Java Plateau and a rather rapid convergence rate (∼10 cm/year). The results of the high angle plate subduction and inner crust earthquakes beneath the Shortland Basin strongly support the high stress state. The collision of the Ontong Java Plateau, the relatively rapid convergence rate, and moderately cold slab as evidenced by low heat flow, rather than the plate age, may be dominantly responsible for the geometry of the seismogenic zone in the western part of the Woodlark Basin subduction zone.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)225-239
Number of pages15
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 2005 Mar 16


  • Micro-seismicity
  • Ocean Bottom Seismometer (OBS)
  • Solomon Islands
  • Subduction zone
  • Woodlark Basin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Earth-Surface Processes


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