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Thermo-mechanical effects of microcontinent collision on ocean-continent subduction system
  • Alessandro Regorda,
  • Manuel Roda
Alessandro Regorda
Università degli Studi di Milano

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Manuel Roda
Università degli Studi di Milano
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Microcontinents are globally recognized as continental regions partially or entirely surrounded by oceanic lithosphere.
Due to their positioning, they may become entangled in subduction zones and undergo either accretion or subduction.
High-pressure metamorphism in subducted continental rocks support the idea that microcontinents can be subducted, regardless of their low densities.
In this study, we used 2D numerical models to simulate collision of microcontinents with different sizes located at various distances from the upper plate in a subduction system characterized by different convergence velocities, in order to examine their effects on the thermo-mechanical evolution of subduction systems.
Specifically, we analyzed the conditions that favor either subduction or accretion of microcontinents and investigated how their presence affects the thermal state within the mantle wedge.
Our results reveal that the presence of microcontinents can lead to four styles of subduction: 1) continuous subduction; 2) continuous subduction with jump of the subduction channel; 3) interruption and restart of the subduction; 4) continental collision.
We discovered that larger microcontinents and higher velocities of the subducting plate contrast a continuous subduction favoring accretion, while farther initial locations from the upper plate and higher velocities of the upper plate favor the subduction of the microcontinent.
Additionally, we observed that the style of subduction has direct effects on the thermal state, with important implications for the potential metamorphic conditions recorded by subducted continental rocks.
In particular, models characterized by parameters that favor the subduction of a larger amount of continental material from the microcontinent exhibit warm mantle wedges.
17 Jan 2024Submitted to ESS Open Archive
21 Jan 2024Published in ESS Open Archive