The convergence history of India-Eurasia records multiple subduction dynamics processes.
ABSTRACT: During the Cretaceous, the Indian plate moved towards Eurasia at the fastest rates ever recorded. The details of this journey are preserved in the Indian Ocean seafloor, which document two distinct pulses of fast motion, separated by a noticeable slowdown. The nature of this rapid acceleration, followed by a rapid slowdown and then succeeded by a second speedup, is puzzling to explain. Using an extensive observation dataset and numerical models of subduction, we show that the arrival of the Reunion mantle plume started a sequence of events that can explain this history of plate motion. The forces applied by the plume initiate an intra-oceanic subduction zone, which eventually adds enough additional force to drive the plates at the anomalously fast speeds. The two-stage closure of a double subduction system, including accretion of an island arc at 50 million years ago, may help reconcile geological evidence for a protracted India-Eurasia collision.
Project description:The notorious ~60° bend separating the Hawaiian and Emperor chains marked a prominent change in the motion of the Pacific plate at ~47 Ma (million years ago), but the origin of that change remains an outstanding controversy that bears on the nature of major plate reorganizations. Lesser known but equally significant is a conundrum posed by the pre-bend (~80 to 47 Ma) motion of the Pacific plate, which, according to conventional plate models, was directed toward a fast-spreading ridge, in contradiction to tectonic forcing expectations. Using constraints provided by seismic tomography, paleomagnetism, and continental margin geology, we demonstrate that two intraoceanic subduction zones spanned the width of the North Pacific Ocean in Late Cretaceous through Paleocene time, and we present a simple plate tectonic model that explains how those intraoceanic subduction zones shaped the ~80 to 47 Ma kinematic history of the Pacific realm and drove a major plate reorganization.
Project description:Indian continental subduction can explain Cenozoic crustal deformation, magmatic activity and uplift of the Tibetan Plateau following the India-Asia collision. In the western Himalayan syntaxis and central Himalaya, subduction or underthrusting of the Indian Plate beneath the Eurasian Plate is well known from seismological studies. However, because information on the deep structure of the eastern Himalayan syntaxis is lacking, the nature of the Indian subduction slab beneath Myanmar and the related tectonic regime remain unclear. Here, we use receiver function common conversion point imaging from a densely spaced seismic array to detect direct structural evidence of present-day Indian continental subduction beneath Asia. The entire subducting Indian crust has an average crustal thickness of ~30?km, dips at an angle of ~19°, and extends to a depth of 100?km under central Myanmar. These results reveal a unique continental subduction regime as a result of Indian-Eurasian continental collision and lateral extrusion.
Project description:The Mexican subduction zone is an ideal location for studying subduction processes due to the short trench-to-coast distances that bring broad portions of the seismogenic and transition zones of the plate interface inland. Using a recently generated seismicity catalog from a local network in Oaxaca, we identified 20 swarms of earthquakes (M < 5) from 2006 to 2012. Swarms outline what appears to be a steeply dipping structure in the overriding plate, indicative of an origin other than the plate interface. This steeply dipping structure corresponds to the northern boundary of the Xolapa terrane. In addition, we observed an interesting characteristic of slow slip events (SSEs) where they showed a shift from trenchward motion toward an along-strike direction at coastal GPS sites. A majority of the swarms were found to correspond in time to the along-strike shift. We propose that swarms and SSEs are occurring on a sliver fault that allows the oblique convergence to be partitioned into trench-perpendicular motion on the subduction interface and trench-parallel motion on the sliver fault. The resistivity structure surrounding the sliver fault suggests that SSEs and swarms of earthquakes occur due to high fluid content in the fault zone. We propose that the sliver fault provides a natural pathway for buoyant fluids attempting to migrate upward after being released from the downgoing plate. Thus, sliver faults could be responsible for the downdip end of the seismogenic zone by creating drier conditions on the subduction interface trenchward of the sliver fault, promoting fast-slip seismogenic rupture behavior.
Project description:East Asia is bounded by the Indian plate to the southwest and the Pacific and Philippine plates to the east, and has undergone complex tectonic evolution since ~55?Ma. In this study, we collect and process three sources of GPS datasets, including GPS observations, GPS positioning time series, and published GPS velocities, to derive unified velocity and strain rate fields for East Asia. We observed southward movement and arc-parallel extension along the Ryukyu Arc and propose that the maximum principal stress axis (striking NEE) in North China could be mainly induced by westward subduction of the Pacific plate and the southward movement of the Ryukyu Arc. The large EW-trending sinistral shear zone that bounds North China has been created by eastward movement of South China to the south and westward subduction of the Pacific plate to the north. GPS velocity profiles and strain rates also demonstrate that crustal deformation in mainland China is controlled by northeastward collision of the Indian plate into Eurasia and westward subduction of the Pacific and Philippine Sea plates beneath Eurasia. In particular, the India-Eurasia continental collision has the most extensive impact, which can reach as far as the southern Lake Baikal. The viscous behavior of the subducting Pacific slab also drives interseismic deformation of North China. The crustal deformation caused by Philippine oceanic subduction is small and is limited to the region between the southeast coast of mainland China and Taiwan island. However, the principal compressional strain around eastern Taiwan is the largest in the region.
Project description:The origin of Samoan volcanism in the southwest Pacific remains enigmatic. Whether mantle melting is solely caused by a mantle plume is questionable because some volcanism, here referred to as non-hotspot volcanism, defies the plume model and its linear age-progression trend. Indeed, non-hotspot volcanism occurred as far as 740?km west of the predicted Samoan hotspot after 5?Ma. Here we use fully-dynamic laboratory subduction models and a tectonic reconstruction to show that the nearby Tonga-Kermadec-Hikurangi (TKH) subduction zone induces a broad mantle upwelling around the northern slab edge that coincides with the non-hotspot volcanic activity after 5?Ma. Using published potential mantle temperatures for the ambient mantle and Samoan mantle plume, we find that two geodynamic processes can explain mantle melting responsible for intraplate volcanism in the Samoan region. We propose that before 5?Ma, the volcanism is consistent with the plume model, whereas afterwards non-hotspot volcanism resulted from interaction between the Subduction-Induced Mantle Upwelling (SIMU) and Samoan mantle plume material that propagated west from the hotspot due to the toroidal component of slab rollback-induced mantle flow. In this geodynamic scenario, the SIMU drives decompression melting in the westward-swept plume material, thus producing the non-hotpot volcanism.
Project description:The tectonic evolution of Laxmi basin, presently located along western Indian passive margin, remains debated. Prevailing geodynamic models of Laxmi basin include two mutually competing hypotheses, culminating in either a hyper-stretched continental crust or an oceanic crust overlying an extinct spreading centre. The longstanding conundrum surrounding its precise crustal affinity precludes a complete understanding of the early opening of the Indian Ocean. Here, we present distinct geochemical and geophysical imprints from the igneous crust in Laxmi basin obtained through International Ocean Discovery Program Expedition 355. The geochemical and isotopic signatures of the Laxmi basin crust exhibit uncanny similarities with forearc tectonic settings. Our observations imply a relict subduction initiation event occurred in the Laxmi basin in the Late Cretaceous-Early Cenozoic that marks a significant Cenozoic plate reorganisation record in the northwest Indian Ocean. New findings therefore warrant re-evaluation of the Gondwana breakup to account for the nascent subduction in the northwest Indian Ocean.
Project description:It is generally accepted that subduction is driven by downgoing-plate negative buoyancy. Yet plate age -the main control on buoyancy- exhibits little correlation with most of the present-day subduction velocities and slab dips. "West"-directed subduction zones are on average steeper (~65°) than "East"-directed (~27°). Also, a "westerly"-directed net rotation of the lithosphere relative to the mantle has been detected in the hotspot reference frame. Thus, the existence of an "easterly"-directed horizontal mantle wind could explain this subduction asymmetry, favouring steepening or lifting of slab dip angles. Here we test this hypothesis using high-resolution two-dimensional numerical thermomechanical models of oceanic plate subduction interacting with a mantle flow. Results show that when subduction polarity is opposite to that of the mantle flow, the descending slab dips subvertically and the hinge retreats, thus leading to the development of a back-arc basin. In contrast, concordance between mantle flow and subduction polarity results in shallow dipping subduction, hinge advance and pronounced topography of the overriding plate, regardless of their age-dependent negative buoyancy. Our results are consistent with seismicity data and tomographic images of subduction zones. Thus, our models may explain why subduction asymmetry is a common feature of convergent margins on Earth.
Project description:Eastern Mediterranean subduction accommodated Africa-Eurasia convergence since Mesozoic time and produced multiple subducted slab fragments in the mantle below Anatolia. These included the north dipping Cyprus and ENE-dipping Antalya slabs, which are currently separated by an upper mantle slab gap. Segmentation of these slabs, and associated mantle flow, may have contributed to <8 Ma uplift of the Central Anatolian Plateau. The western Central Taurides fold-thrust belt in southern Turkey is in the upper plate above the Antalya slab and contains a geological record of its subduction. We present the first orogen-scale balanced cross section of the Taurides and find that it formed in two stages: (1) Cretaceous to middle Eocene thrusting resulted in a minimum of 73-km shortening, and (2) Mio-Pliocene thrusting resulted in a minimum of 17.5-km shortening. Eocene shortening accounts for only ~5 Myr of Africa-Eurasia plate convergence. It is unlikely that >400 km of post to middle Eocene plate convergence was accommodated between the Taurides and its Beyda?lar? platform foreland and instead must have been accommodated south of Beyda?lar?. The associated southward plate boundary jump separated the Antalya slab from the African plate and the Cyprus slab. The isolated Antalya slab was left in an intraplate setting and is probably still attached to Beyda?lar? today. We suggest the continental composition of the Antalya slab may have prevented its detachment. Finally, the gap between the Antalya and Cyprus slabs existed since at least Eocene time; their decoupling likely did not contribute to late Neogene Central Anatolian Plateau uplift.
Project description:At two trench segments below the Andes, the Nazca Plate is subducting sub-horizontally over ?200-300?km, thought to result from a combination of buoyant oceanic-plateau subduction and hydrodynamic mantle-wedge suction. Whether the actual conditions for both processes to work in concert existed is uncertain. Here we infer from a tectonic reconstruction of the Andes constructed in a mantle reference frame that the Nazca slab has retreated at ?2?cm per year since ?50?Ma. In the flat slab portions, no rollback has occurred since their formation at ?12?Ma, generating 'horse-shoe' slab geometries. We propose that, in concert with other drivers, an overpressured sub-slab mantle supporting the weight of the slab in an advancing upper plate-motion setting can locally impede rollback and maintain flat slabs until slab tearing releases the overpressure. Tear subduction re-establishes a continuous slab and allows the process to recur, providing a mechanism for the transient character of flat slabs.
Project description:Mantle-derived serpentinites have been detected at magma-poor rifted margins and above subduction zones, where they are usually produced by fluids released from the slab to the mantle wedge. Here we show evidence of a new class of serpentinite diapirs within the external subduction system of the Calabrian Arc, derived directly from the lower plate. Mantle serpentinites rise through lithospheric faults caused by incipient rifting and the collapse of the accretionary wedge. Mantle-derived diapirism is not linked directly to subduction processes. The serpentinites, formed probably during Mesozoic Tethyan rifting, were carried below the subduction system by plate convergence; lithospheric faults driving margin segmentation act as windows through which inherited serpentinites rise to the sub-seafloor. The discovery of deep-seated seismogenic features coupled with inherited lower plate serpentinite diapirs, provides constraints on mechanisms exposing altered products of mantle peridotite at the seafloor long time after their formation.