Ductile deformation of passive margins: A new mechanism for subduction initiation Academic Article uri icon


  • The onset of subduction at passive margins has been extensively investigated and debated. However, the force constellations and mechanisms that enable the development of a subduction system from a passive margin remain unclear. This study presents new insights into the conditions and processes by which lateral density differences between oceanic and continental lithospheres in passive margins may lead to initiation of a low-angle subduction system. The presented study consists of (1) analytical calculations of flow fields generated in passive margins, and (2) analogue experiments of mature passive margins performed in a centrifuge. The analytical formulation predicts temporal and spatial evolution of an interface between the oceanic and continental lithospheres, and demonstrates that oceanic underthrusting may occur by rotation of this interface. The analogue experiments show that incipient...

publication date

  • August 1, 2008