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Trench migration, net rotation and slab-mantle coupling

Abstract : Laboratory models have been conducted to improve our understanding of the role that the resistance of the slab to bending and its coupling to the ambient mantle play in subduction dynamics over geological time scales. Our models are set up with a viscous plate of silicone (lithosphere) subducting under negative buoyancy in a viscous layer of glucose syrup (mantle). For our study, the lithosphere/upper mantle viscosity contrast has been systematically varied, from similar to 10 to similar to 10(5) in order to explore the parameter space between weak and strong slab dynamics. We found that subduction is characterized by a retreating mode for viscosity ratios > 10(4), by the coexistence of a retreating mode and an advancing mode for viscosity ratios between similar to 10(4) and similar to 10(2), and quasi-stationary, Rayleigh-Taylor like behaviour for ratios < 10(2). By combining our experimental results and kinematic data from current subduction zones in four reference frames which differ in the amount of net rotation, we infer that a lithosphere/upper mantle viscosity contrast of 150-500 is necessary to obtain realistic trench/subducting plate velocity ratios as well as the variability of subduction styles observed in nature.
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Submitted on : Monday, August 31, 2009 - 2:21:30 PM
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F. Funiciello, C. Faccenna, Arnauld Heuret, Serge Lallemand, Erika Di Giuseppe, et al.. Trench migration, net rotation and slab-mantle coupling. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, Elsevier, 2008, 271 (1-4), pp.233-240. ⟨10.1016/j.epsl.2008.04.006⟩. ⟨hal-00412008⟩



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