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Influence of the thickness of the overriding plate on convergence zone dynamics

Abstract : The important role played by the upper plate in convergence zones dynamics has long been underestimated but is now more and more emphasized. However, the influence of its thickness and/or strength on orogenic systems evolution remains largely unknown. Here, we present results from 3D thermo‐mechanical numerical simulations of convergence zones (including oceanic subduction followed by continental subduction/collision), in which we vary the rheological profile of the overriding plate. For this, we systematically modify the crustal thickness of the overriding lithosphere and the temperature at the Moho to obtain a thermal thickness of the overriding lithosphere ranging from 80 km to 180 km. While all models share a common global evolution (i.e., slab sinking, interaction between slab and the 660 km discontinuity, continental subduction/collision, and slab breakoff), they also highlight first‐order differences arising from the variations in the overriding plate strength (thermal thickness). With a thin/weak overriding plate, slab rollback is favored, the slab dip is low, the mantle flow above the slab is vigorous and the trench migrates at a high rate compared to a thick/strong overriding plate. In addition, slab breakoff and back‐arc basin formation events occur significantly earlier than in models involving a thick overriding plate. Our models therefore highlight the major role played by the thickness/strength of the overriding plate on convergence zone dynamics and illustrate its influence in a quantitative way.
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Solenn Hertgen, Philippe Yamato, Benjamin Guillaume, Valentina Magni, Nicholas Schliffke, et al.. Influence of the thickness of the overriding plate on convergence zone dynamics. Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems, AGU and the Geochemical Society, 2020, 21 (2), pp.e2019GC008678. ⟨10.1029/2019GC008678⟩. ⟨insu-02459061⟩

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