Continental subduction channel processes: Plate interface interaction during continental collision
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- Zheng, Y., Zhao, Z. & Chen, Y. Chin. Sci. Bull. (2013) 58: 4371. doi:10.1007/s11434-013-6066-x
The study of subduction-zone processes is a key to development of the plate tectonic theory. Plate interface interaction is a basic mechanism for the mass and energy exchange between Earth’s surface and interior. By developing the subduction channel model into continental collision orogens, insights are provided into tectonic processes during continental subduction and its products. The continental crust, composed of felsic to mafic rocks, is detached at different depths from subducting continental lithosphere and then migrates into continental subduction channel. Part of the subcontinental lithospheric mantle wedge, composed of peridotite, is offscrapped from its bottom. The crustal and mantle fragments of different sizes are transported downwards and upwards inside subduction channels by the corner flow, resulting in varying extents of metamorphism, with heterogeneous deformation and local anatexis. All these metamorphic rocks can be viewed as tectonic melanges due to mechanical mixing of crust- and mantle-derived rocks in the subduction channels, resulting in different types of metamorphic rocks now exposed in the same orogens. The crust-mantle interaction in the continental subduction channel is realized by reaction of the overlying ancient subcontinental lithospheric mantle wedge peridotite with aqueous fluid and hydrous melt derived from partial melting of subducted continental basement granite and cover sediment. The nature of premetamorphic protoliths dictates the type of collisional orogens, the size of ultrahigh-pressure metamorphic terranes and the duration of ultrahigh-pressure metamorphism.