Progressive weakening within the overriding plate during dual inward dipping subduction

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ZHIBIN LEI, J. Huw Davies 


Dual inward dipping subduction often produces complex deformation patterns in the overriding plate. However, the geodynamic process of how dual inward dipping subduction relates to this deformation is still poorly understood. Here we apply a composite viscosity, dependent on multiple parameters, e.g., temperature, pressure, strain rate etc., in 2-D thermo-mechanical numerical modelling to investigate how dual inward dipping subduction modifies the rheological structure of the overriding plate. Three variables are investigated to understand what controls the maximum degree of weakening. We find that the initial length and thickness of the overriding plate are negatively correlated with the magnitude of viscosity reduction. While the initial thickness of the subducting plate positively relates to the magnitude of viscosity reduction. The progressive weakening can result in a variety of stretching states ranging from 1) little or no lithosphere thinning and extension, to 2) limited thermal lithosphere thinning, and 3) localised rifting followed by spreading extension. Compared with single sided subduction, dual inward dipping subduction further reduces the magnitude of viscosity of the overriding plate. It does this by creating a dynamic fixed boundary condition for the overriding plate and forming a stronger upwelling mantle flow underlying the overriding plate. Three types of feedback weakening cycles are recognised, among which the strain rate weakening mechanism plays the dominant role in lowering the viscosity of the overriding plate throughout the simulation. Strain rate weakening is also a precondition for initiating thermal weakening, strain localisation and lithosphere thinning.



Earth Sciences


dual inward dipping subduction, composite viscosity, feedback weakening, numerical modelling


Published: 2022-01-09 17:09

Last Updated: 2022-01-10 01:09


CC BY Attribution 4.0 International

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Conflict of interest statement:
Both authors confirm that there is no conflict of interests to disclose.

Data Availability (Reason not available):
Data will become available through the published journal paper.

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