3-D thermo-mechanical laboratory modeling of plate-tectonics: modeling scheme, technique and first experiments

David Boutelier, Onno Oncken

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    21 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    We present an experimental apparatus for 3-D thermo-mechanical analogue modeling of plate tectonic processes such as oceanic and continental subductions, arccontinent or continental collisions. The model lithosphere, made of temperature-sensitive elasto-plastic analogue materials with strain softening, is submitted to a constant temperature gradient causing a strength reduction with depth in each layer. The surface temperature is imposed using infrared emitters, which allows maintaining an unobstructed view of the model surface and the use of a high resolution optical strain monitoring technique (Particle Imaging Velocimetry). Subduction experiments illustrate how the stress conditions on the interplate zone can be estimated using a force sensor attached to the back of the upper plate and adjusted via the density and strength of the subducting lithosphere or the lubrication of the plate boundary. The first experimental results reveal the potential of the experimental set-up to investigate the three-dimensional solid-mechanics interactions of lithospheric plates in multiple natural situations.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)35 - 51
    Number of pages17
    JournalSolid Earth
    Volume2
    Issue number1
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2011

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