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Mantle-plume induced subduction

Marzieh Baes and colleagues provide an insightful review of plume-induced subduction:


Subduction zone initiation by a hot and buoyant mantle plume head is unique among proposed subduction initiation mechanisms because it might not require pre-existing weak zones or other forces for lithospheric collapse. Since recognition of the first evidence of subduction nucleation induced by a mantle plume in the Late Cretaceous Caribbean realm, the number of studies focusing on other natural examples has grown. Here, we review numerical and physical modeling and geological-geochemical studies which have been carried out thus far to investigate onset of a new subduction zone caused by impingement of a mantle plume head. As geological-geochemical data suggests that plume-lithosphere interactions have long been important - spanning from the Archean to the present - modeling studies provide valuable information on the spatial and temporal variations in lithospheric deformation induced by these interactions. Numerical and physical modelling studies, ranging from regional to global scales, illustrate the key role of plume buoyancy, lithospheric strength and magmatic weakening above the plume head on plume-lithosphere interactions. Lithospheric/crustal heterogeneities, pre-existing lithospheric weak zones and external compressional/extensional forces may also change the deformation regime caused by plume-lithosphere interaction.


Baes M, Stern RJ, Whattam S, Gerya TV and Sobolev SV (2021) Plume-Induced Subduction Initiation: Revisiting Models and Observations. Front. Earth Sci. 9:766604. doi: 10.3389/feart.2021.766604

Read the full open-access paper here


Synopsis of hindering and facilitating parameters in plume-induced subduction initiation. Note that aging of the lithosphere has a dual effect; aging increases lithospheric strength, which hinders subduction initiation, but it can also facilitate subduction initiation because it increases lithospheric density.
Overview of hindering and facilitating parameters for plume-induced subduction

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