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Differentiation of continental subduction mode: Numerical modeling

Tuoxin Yang 1, 2 Pengpeng Huangfu 3 Yan Zhang 2, *
1 School of Civil, Environmental and Mining Engineering, University of Adelaide, South Australia 5005, Australia ;2 Guangdong Provincal Key Lab of Geodynamics and Geohazards, School of Earth Sciences and Engineering, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou 510275, China; 3 Key Laboratory of Computational Geodynamics, College of Earth Sciences, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China

The convergence of the multi-layered continental lithospheres with various and complex thermal and rheological properties results in different modes of continental collision with distinct deformation behaviors of the lithospheric mantle. Using high-resolution thermo-mechanical numerical models, we systematically investigated the effects of crustal rheological strength and the convergence rate on the continental subduction mode. The model results have revealed three basic modes of continental subduction, including slab break-off, steep subduction and continental flat-slab subduction. The retreat and non-retreat of the lithospheric mantle of the overriding plate during convergence enables the classification of the first two modes into two sub-types, which are dominated by the crustal rheological strength. The mode of slab break-off develops under the conditions of low/moderate rheological strength of the continental crust and low convergence rate. In contrast, continental flat-slab subduction favors the strong crust and the high convergence rate. Otherwise, continental steep subduction occurs. The numerical results provide further implications for geodynamics conditions and physical processes of different modes of continental collision that occurring in nature.

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Keywords:continental subduction; slab break-off; steep subduction; continental flat-slab subduction; numerical modelin

DOI:
10.1007/s12583-017-0946-y
CLC number:
U469.72
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