Topography of the Overriding Plate During Progressive Subduction: A Dynamic Model to Explain Forearc Subsidence

Zhihao Chen, Wouter P. Schellart, João C. Duarte, Vincent Strak

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Abstract

Overriding plate topography provides constraints on subduction zone geodynamics. We investigate its evolution using fully dynamic laboratory models of subduction with techniques of stereoscopic photogrammetry and particle image velocimetry. Model results show that the topography is characterized by an area of forearc dynamic subsidence, with a magnitude scaling to 1.44–3.97 km in nature, and a local topographic high between the forearc subsided region and the trench. These topographic features rapidly develop during the slab free-sinking phase and gradually decrease during the steady state slab rollback phase. We propose that they result from the variation of the vertical component of the trench suction force along the subduction zone interface, which gradually increases with depth and results from the gradual slab steepening during the initial transient slab sinking phase. The downward mantle flow in the nose of the mantle wedge plays a minor role in driving forearc subsidence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9632-9643
Number of pages12
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Volume44
Issue number19
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 16 Oct 2017

Keywords

  • forearc subsidence
  • geodynamic model
  • stereoscopic PIV
  • subduction
  • topography
  • trench suction force

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