Subduction pp 35-78 | Cite as

Initiation and Development of Subduction Under Horizontal Compression of the Lithosphere

  • Alexander I. Shemenda
Part of the Modern Approaches in Geophysics book series (MAGE, volume 11)


More then 80% of seismic energy in subduction zones is released in thrust type earthquakes with the axis of maximum compression oriented transverse to the subduction zones [Balakina1984]. This is consistent with the convergence of the lithosphere in these zones. In spite of this, it is not obvious that the general stress regime of the lithosphere in a subduction zone is characterized by horizontal compression. It is well known that the lithosphere in subduction zone can undergo tension and moreover, the convergence itself can be driven by the gravitational sinking of the subducting plate into the mantle. However, to form the subduction zone, to start the convergence and thinking of the plate into the mantle, large compression of the lithosphere is probably necessary. It seems that there is no other physically realistic way to cause failure of the plate and to initiate subduction other than application of large compressive stresses to the lithosphere. This chapter is devoted to the investigation of possible mechanisms for formation of subduction zones and some general patterns of the subduction process.


Continental Margin Subduction Zone Oceanic Plate Slope Break Horizontal Compression 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alexander I. Shemenda
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratoire de Géophysique et TectoniqueUniversité de Montpellier IIMontpellierFrance

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