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A newly discovered Late-Cretaceous East Asian flat slab explains its unique lithospheric structure and tectonics
  • Diandian Peng,
  • Lijun Liu
Diandian Peng
University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign

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Lijun Liu
University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign
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The existence of historical flat slabs remains debated. We evaluate past subduction since 200 Ma using global models with data assimilation. By reproducing major Mesozoic slabs whose dip angles satisfy geological constraints, the model suggests a previously unrecognized continental-scale flat slab during the Late Cretaceous beneath East Asia, a result independent of plate reconstructions, continental lithospheric thickness, convergence rate, and seafloor age. Tests show that the pre-Cretaceous subduction history, both along the western Pacific and Tethyan trenches, is the most important reason for the formation of this prominent flat Izanagi slab. Physically, continuing subduction increases the gravitational torque, which, through balancing the suction torque, progressively reduces dynamic pressure above the slab and decreases the slab dip angle. The flat Izanagi slab explains the observed East Asian lithospheric thinning that led to the formation of the North-South Gravity Lineament, tectonic inversion of sedimentary basins, uplift of the Greater Xing'an-Taihang-Xuefeng mountains and the abrupt termination of intraplate volcanism during the Late Cretaceous.
Oct 2021Published in Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth volume 126 issue 10. 10.1029/2021JB022103