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Emplacement of metamorphic core complexes and associated geothermal systems controlled by slab dynamics

Abstract : Slab rollback results in the development of low-angle normal faults (detachments) and metamorphic core complexes (MCCs) in back-arc domains. Although the mechanical consequences of slab dynamics on lithospheric and crustal behaviors have already been studied, thermal effects have not been investigated yet. This study shows that slab rollback produces lithospheric-scale thermal perturbations intrinsically associated with emplacement of amagmatic high-enthalpy geothermal systems. Using a multi-scale numerical modeling approach, with lithospheric-scale 3-D thermo-mechanical models of subduction, and 2-D models of fluid flow at the scale of detachments, we demonstrate that subduction-induced extensional tectonics controls the genesis and distribution of crustal-scale thermal domes from the base of the crust, and the location of high-energy geothermal systems. We find that when slab tearing occurs, Moho temperatures can temporarily increase by up to 250 °C due to significant shear heating in the flowing upper mantle. Associated thermal anomalies (with characteristic width and spacing of tens and hundreds of km, for crustal and lithospheric scales, respectively) then migrate systematically toward the retreating trench. These thermal domes weaken the crust, localize deformation and enhance the development of crustal-scale detachments. These thermo-mechanical instabilities mimic genesis of high-temperature MCCs with migmatitic cores in the back-arc domain, such as those of the Menderes (western Anatolia, Turkey) and Larderello (southern Tuscany) provinces in the Mediterranean realm, and those in the Basin and Range (western United States), where detachments control the bulk of the heat transport. At the scale of MCCs, the bulk fluid flow pattern is controlled by topography-driven flow while buoyancy-driven flow dominates within the permeable detachments, focusing reservoir location of high-energy geothermal systems at shallow depth beneath the detachments.
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Vincent Roche, Pietro Sternai, Laurent Guillou-Frottier, Armel Menant, Laurent Jolivet, et al.. Emplacement of metamorphic core complexes and associated geothermal systems controlled by slab dynamics. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, Elsevier, 2018, 498, pp.322-333. ⟨10.1016/j.epsl.2018.06.043⟩. ⟨insu-01856826⟩

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