The Role of History-Dependent Rheology in Plate Boundary Lubrication for Generating One-Sided Subduction
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We have developed a two-dimensional dynamical model of asymmetric subduction integrated into the mantle convection without imposed plate velocities. In this model we consider that weak oceanic crust behaves as a lubricator on the thrust fault at the plate boundary. We introduce a rheological layer that depends on the history of the past fracture to simulate the effect of the oceanic crust. The thickness of this layer is set to be as thin as the Earth's oceanic crust. To treat 1-kilometer scale structure at the plate boundary in the 1000-kilometer scale mantle convection calculation, we introduce a new numerical method to solve the hydrodynamic equations using a couple of uniform and nonuniform grids of control volumes. Using our developed models, we have systematically investigated effects of basic rheological parameters that determine the deformation strength of the lithosphere and the oceanic crust on the development of the subducted slab, with a focus on the plate motion controlling mechanism. In our model the plate subduction is produced when the friction coefficient (0.004–0.008) of the modeled oceanic crust and the maximum strength (400 MPa) of the lithosphere are in plausible range inferred from the observations on the plate driving forces and the plate deformation, and the rheology experiments. In this range of the plate strength, yielding induces the plate bending. In this case the speed of plate motion is controlled more by viscosity layering of the underlying mantle than by the plate strength. To examine the setting of the overriding plate, we also consider the two end-member cases in which the overriding plate is fixed or freely-movable. In the case of the freely-movable overriding plate, the trench motion considerably changes the dip angle of the deep slab. Especially in the case with a shallow-angle plate boundary, retrograde slab motion occurs to generate a shallow-angle deep slab.
KeywordsMantle convection plate motion rheology subduction
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