Subduction zones evolution and slip styles: advances from tectonics, metamorphism and rheology

Subduction zones are one of the key players in driving plate tectonics. They are the loci of major mineral and rock transformation and deformation, mass/fluid transfer and seismicity, with the subduction thrust interface hosting a range of fault slip styles varying in slip speeds from steady creep to hazardous earthquakes. Understanding initiation and development of present-day and fossil subduction zones, in both space and time, is therefore essential for understanding plate tectonics and, more generally, how the solid Earth system operates. In addition, a better understanding of the structural and mechanical features of the plate interface is of societal importance for estimating the potential seismic and tsunami hazard.
This session aims at better understanding the nature and duration of the tectonic and metamorphic processes controlling the development of subduction zones from the initiation to the mature state. This includes studies focusing on relations between kinematic of plate motions and formation of new subduction zones, mechanisms driving subduction long-term dynamics along the plate interface (e.g., mechanical (de)coupling, strain localisation, rock accretion and exhumation, degree of heterogeneity and viscosity contrast in the material involved, presence and distribution of fluids), as well as those occurring intra-slab or within the accretionary wedge. This session also aims at highlighting the importance of the existing interactions between metamorphism processes and deformation (from nano to km scale) and on their consequences on subduction dynamics and mechanics. We welcome contributions from a wide range of disciplines such as structural geology, tectonics, petrology, geophysics, experimental deformation and numerical modelling, with particular emphasis on the rock record.

Convener: Mathieu SoretECSECS | Co-conveners: Francesca Meneghini, Guillaume BonnetECSECS, Ake Fagereng, Francesca PiccoliECSECS, Kohtaro Ujiie, Matthijs Smit, Martijn van den EndeECSECS
vPICO presentations
| Mon, 26 Apr, 13:30–17:00 (CEST)

vPICO presentations: Mon, 26 Apr

Chairpersons: Mathieu Soret, Francesca Piccoli, Matthijs Smit
Subduction zones: from start to finish
Stefan Markus Schmalholz, Lorenzo Candioti, Joshua Vaughan-Hammon, and Thibault Duretz

Subduction zones are one of the main features of plate tectonics, they are essential for geochemical cycling and are often a key player during mountain building. However, several processes related to subduction zones remain elusive, such as the initiation of subduction or the exhumation of (ultra)high-pressure rocks.

Collision orogens, such as the European Alps or Himalayas, provide valuable insight into long-term subduction zone processes and the larger geodynamic cycles of plate extension and subsequent convergence. For the Alps, geological reconstructions suggest a horizontally forced subduction initiation caused by the onset of convergence between the Adriatic and European plates. During Alpine orogeny, the Piemont-Liguria basin and the European passive magma-poor margin (including the Briançonnais domain) were subducted below Adria. The petrological rock record indicates burial and subsequent exhumation of both continental and oceanic crustal rocks that were exposed to (ultra)high-pressure metamorphic conditions during their Alpine burial-exhumation cycle. Moreover, estimates of exhumation velocities yield magnitudes in the range of several mm/yr to several cm/yr. However, published estimates of exhumation velocities, ages of peak metamorphic conditions and estimates for peak pressure and peak temperature vary partly significantly, even for the same tectonic unit. Consequently, many, partly significantly, contrasting conceptual models for subduction initiation (convergence versus buoyancy driven) or rock exhumation (channel-flow, diapirism, episodic regional extension, erosion etc.) have been proposed for the Alps. 

Complementary to the data-driven approach, mathematical models of the lithosphere and upper mantle system are useful tools to investigate geodynamic processes. These mathematical models integrate observational and experimental data with the fundamental laws of physics (e.g. conservation of mass, momentum and energy) and are useful to test conceptual models of subduction initiation and rock exhumation. Here, we present numerical solutions of two-dimensional petrological-thermo-mechanical models. The initial model configuration consists of an isostatically and thermally equilibrated lithosphere, which includes mechanical heterogeneities in the form of elliptical regions with different effective viscosity. We model a continuous geodynamic cycle of subsequent extension, no far-field deformation and convergence. During extension, the continental crust is necked, separated and mantle is exhumed, forming a marine basin bounded by passive margins. During the subsequent stage with no far-field deformation, the thermal field of the lithosphere is re-equilibrated above a convecting mantle. During convergence, subduction is initiated at one passive margin and the mantle lithosphere below the marine basin as well as the other passive margin are subducted. During progressive subduction, parts of the subducted continental upper crust are sheared-off the subducting plate and are exhumed to the surface, ultimately forming an orogenic wedge. For the convergence, we test the impact of serpentinites at the top of the exhumed mantle on orogenic wedge formation. We compare the model results with observational and experimental constraints, discuss the involved processes and driving forces and propose a model for subduction initiation and (ultra)high-pressure rock exhumation for the Alps.

How to cite: Schmalholz, S. M., Candioti, L., Vaughan-Hammon, J., and Duretz, T.: Subduction initiation and subsequent burial-exhumation of (ultra)high-pressure rock, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-10097, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-10097, 2021.

Attila Balazs, Claudio Faccenna, Taras Gerya, Kosuke Ueda, and Francesca Funiciello

The dynamics of oceanic and continental subduction zones is linked to the rise and demise of forearc and backarc basins in the overriding plate. Subsidence and uplift rates of these distinct sedimentary basins are controlled by variations in plate convergence and subduction velocities and determined by lithospheric rheological structure and different lithospheric thicknesses.

In this study we conducted a series of high-resolution 2D numerical models applying the thermo-mechanical code 2DELVIS (Gerya and Yuen, 2007). The model, based on finite differences and marker-in-cell techniques, solves the mass, momentum, and energy conservation equations for incompressible media; assumes elasto-visco-plastic rheologies and involves erosion, sedimentation and hydration processes.

The models show the evolution of wedge-top basins lying on top of the accretionary wedge and retro-forearc basins in the continental overriding plate, separated by a forearc high. These forearc regions are affected by repeated compression and extension phases. Higher subsidence rates are recorded in the syncline structure of the retro-forearc basin when the slab dip angle is higher and the subduction interface is stronger and before the slab reaches the 660 km discontinuity. This implies the importance of the slab suction force as the main forcing factor creating up to 3-4 km negative dynamics topographic signals.

Extensional back-arc basins are either localized along inherited crustal or lithospheric weak zones at large distance from the forearc region or are initiated just above the hydrated mantle wedge. During trench retreat and slab roll-back the older volcanic arc area becomes part of the back-arc region. Back-arc subsidence is primarily governed by crustal and lithospheric thinning controlled by slab roll-back. Onset of continental subduction and soft collision is linked to the rapid uplift of the forearc basins; however, the back-arc region records ongoing extension. Finally, during hard collision the forarc and back-arc basins are ultimately under compression.

Our results are compared with the evolution of the Mediterranean and based on the reconstructed plate kinematics, subsidence and heat flow evolution we classify the Western and Eastern Alboran, Paola and Tyrrhenian, Transylvanian and Pannonian Basins to be genetically similar forearc–backarc basins, respectively.

How to cite: Balazs, A., Faccenna, C., Gerya, T., Ueda, K., and Funiciello, F.: Subduction dynamics and rheology control on forearc and backarc subsidence: Numerical models and observations from the Mediterranean  , EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-11068, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-11068, 2021.

Kristóf Porkoláb, Thibault Duretz, Philippe Yamato, Antoine Auzemery, and Ernst Willingshofer

Continental subduction below oceanic plates and associated emplacement of ophiolite sheets remain enigmatic chapters in global plate tectonics. Numerous ophiolite belts on Earth exhibit a far-travelled ophiolite sheet that is separated from its oceanic root by tectonic windows exposing continental crust, which experienced subduction-related high pressure-low temperature (HP-LT) metamorphism during obduction. However, the link between continental subduction-exhumation dynamics and far-travelled ophiolite emplacement remains poorly understood. We combine data collected from ophiolite belts worldwide with thermo-mechanical simulations of continental subduction dynamics to show the causal link between the extrusion of subducted continental crust and the emplacement of far-travelled ophiolite sheets. Our results reveal that buoyancy-driven extrusion of subducted crust triggers necking and breaking of the overriding oceanic upper plate. The broken-off piece of oceanic lithosphere is then transported on top of the continent along a flat thrust segment and becomes a far-travelled ophiolite sheet separated from its root by the extruded continental crust. Our results indicate that the extrusion of the subducted continental crust and the emplacement of far-travelled ophiolite sheets are inseparable processes.

How to cite: Porkoláb, K., Duretz, T., Yamato, P., Auzemery, A., and Willingshofer, E.: Extrusion of subducted crust explains the emplacement of far-travelled ophiolites, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-3047, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-3047, 2021.

Zoe Braden, Jonas B. Ruh, and Whitney M. Behr

Observations of several active shallow subduction megathrusts suggest that they are localized as décollements within sedimentary sequences or at the contact between sedimentary layers and the underlying mafic oceanic crust.  Exhumed accretionary complexes from a range of subduction depths, however, preserve underplated mafic slivers, which indicate that megathrust faults can occasionally develop within the mafic oceanic crustal column. The incorporation of mafic rocks into the subduction interface shear zone has the potential to influence both long-term subduction dynamics and short-term seismic and transient slip behaviour, but the processes and conditions that favour localisation of the megathrust into deeper oceanic crustal levels are poorly understood.

In this work, we use visco-elasto-plastic numerical modelling to explore the long-term (million year) factors influencing the incorporation of mafic volcanic rocks into the subduction interface and accretionary wedge through underplating. We focus on the potential importance of oceanic seafloor alteration in facilitating oceanic crustal weakening, which is implemented through a temperature-dependent pore-fluid pressure ratio (lambda = 0.90-0.99 between 160 and 300oC). We then examine the underplating response to changes in sediment thickness, geothermal gradient, sediment fluid pressure, and surface erosion rates. Our results indicate that a thinner incoming sediment package and a lower geothermal gradient cause oceanic crustal underplating to initiate deeper beneath the backstop (overriding plate) compared to thicker incoming sediment and a higher geothermal gradient. Relative pore fluid pressure differences between sediments and altered oceanic crust control the amount of altered oceanic crust that is underplated, as well as the location of underplating beneath the backstop or accretionary wedge. When sediments on top of the altered oceanic crust have the same fluid pressure as the altered oceanic crust, no oceanic crustal underplating occurs. Modelling results are also compared to exhumed subduction complexes to examine the amount and distribution of underplated mafic rocks.

How to cite: Braden, Z., Ruh, J. B., and Behr, W. M.: Underplating altered oceanic crust: Insights from numerical modelling, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-8587, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-8587, 2021.

Ismay Vénice Akker, Christoph E. Schrank, Michael W.M. Jones, Cameron M. Kewish, Alfons Berger, and Marco Herwegh

During the accretion of foreland basin sediments into an accretionary or orogenic wedge, the sediments dehydrate and deform. Both dehydration and deformation intensity increase from the outer to the inner wedge and are a function of metamorphic processes and strain. Here, we study the microstructural evolution of slates from the exhumed Flysch units making up a paleo accretionary wedge in the European Alps. With classic SEM imaging and synchrotron X-ray fluorescence microscopy, we document the evolution of slate fabrics and calcite veins and aim at understanding the role of the evolving slate fabrics for strain localisation and fluid flow at the micro-scale.

The investigated slate samples are from a NW-SE transect covering the outer and inner wedge from 200 to 330 °C. The metamorphic gradient directly correlates with an increasing background strain gradient. With the use of the autocorrelation function, we quantify the evolution of the microfabrics along the metamorphic gradient and document deformation stages from a weakly deformed slate without foliation in the outer wedge to a strongly deformed slate with a dense spaced foliation in the inner wedge. The foliation mainly forms by dissolution-precipitation processes, which increase with increasing metamorphic gradient.

The slate matrix reveals two main sets of veins. The first vein set includes micron-scaled calcite veinlets with very high spatial densities. The second vein set includes layer parallel calcite veins that form vein-arrays (couple of metres thick) in the inner wedge. Both vein sets could have moved large amounts of fluids through the wedge. The spatial distribution of the micron-veinlets reveals that fluids were moved pervasively. In the case of the layer parallel veins forming vein-arrays, fluid flow was localized, supported by the dense spaced foliation formed in the slate matrix in the inner wedge. This way we now establish a direct link between the microstructural evolution in the slate matrix and associated dehydration, where fluids become increasingly channelled towards the inner wedge. Knowing that the vein-arrays have length dimensions in the order or hundreds of metres to kilometres, these structures are important for larger-scale fluid flow, the feeding of fluids into megathrusts and for related seismic activity in the wedge.

How to cite: Akker, I. V., Schrank, C. E., Jones, M. W. M., Kewish, C. M., Berger, A., and Herwegh, M.: What slates can tell us about strain localisation and fluid flow in accretionary wedges: a microstructural analysis of deforming foreland basin sediments, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-2019, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-2019, 2021.

Carolyn Tewksbury-Christle, Alissa Kotowski, and Whitney Behr

The strength, or viscosity, of the subduction interface is a key parameter in subduction dynamics, influencing both long-term subduction plate speeds and short-term transient deformation styles. Fossil subduction interfaces exhumed from downdip of the megathrust record ductile deformation accommodated by diverse lithologies, including metasedimentary and metamafic rocks. Existing flow laws for quartz-rich rocks predict relatively low viscosities, in contrast to high viscosities predicted for basalt and eclogite, but the rheological properties of blueschists representative of metamorphosed oceanic crust of the down-going slab are poorly constrained. Two key questions remain: 1) are there significant viscosity contrasts between blueschists and quartz- or mica-rich metasedimentary rocks, and 2) what are the microscale mechanisms for creep in naturally deformed blueschists and how do they vary with pressure and temperature? To address these questions, we characterized deformation in natural samples from the Condrey Mountain Schist (CMS) in northern California, USA, and the Cycladic Blueschist Unit (CBU) on Syros Island, Cyclades, Greece, using outcrop-scale structural observations, optical microscopy, and Electron Backscatter Diffraction. The CMS and CBU record pressure-temperature conditions of 0.8-1.1 GPa, 350-450°C and 1.4-1.8 GPa, 450-550°C, respectively. 

In the field, blueschists form m- to km-scale lenses that are interfolded with quartz schists, ultramafics, and, in the CBU, eclogites and marbles. At the outcrop scale in both localities, quartz-rich schists and blueschists each exhibit strong foliations and lineations and planar contacts at lithological boundaries. At the thin section scale, the prograde foliation and mineral lineation in blueschists are commonly defined by Na-amphiboles elongated in the lineation direction. Crystallographic preferred orientations in Na-amphibole in all samples have c-axes parallel to lineation and a-axes predominantly defining point-maxima perpendicular to the foliation, suggesting some component of dislocation activity for all temperature conditions in our sample suite. Microtextures in lower temperature CMS samples suggest strain accommodation primarily by dislocation glide and kinking in Na-amphibole, with extremely high-aspect-ratio grains and limited evidence for climb-controlled dynamic recrystallization. Some higher temperature CBU samples show large porphyroclasts with apparent ‘core-and-mantle’-type recrystallization textures and subgrain orientation analyses consistent with the (hk0)[001] slip systems. In contrast, epidote grains accommodate less strain than Na-amphibole, via some combination of rigid rotation, brittle boudinage, and minor intracrystalline plasticity.

Observations of evenly-distributed strain, despite lithological heterogeneity, suggest low viscosity contrasts and comparable bulk strengths of quartz schists and blueschists. Our microstructural observations suggest that Na-amphibole was the weakest phase and accommodated the majority of strain in mafic blueschists. Dislocation activity, and not just rigid-body-rotation or diffusional processes, accommodated some component of strain and possibly transitioned with increasing temperature from glide- to climb-controlled. Although effective viscosities appear to be similar, subduction interface shear zones dominated by blueschists may exhibit a power-law rheology consistent with dislocation activity, in contrast to the common inference of Newtonian creep in metasediments. Complementary experimental work on CMS and CBU rocks will also be presented at this meeting (see Tokle et al. and Hufford et al.).

How to cite: Tewksbury-Christle, C., Kotowski, A., and Behr, W.: Deformation mechanisms in naturally-deformed blueschist facies metabasalts: constraints from exhumed subduction complexes in Greece and California, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-2391, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-2391, 2021.

Armel Menant, Onno Oncken, Johannes Glodny, Samuel Angiboust, Laurent Jolivet, Romain Augier, Eloïse Bessière, and Taras Gerya

Subduction margins are the loci of a wide range of deformation processes occurring at different timescales along the plate interface and in the overriding forearc crust. Whereas long-term deformation is usually considered as stable over Myr-long periods, this vision is challenged by an increasing number of observations suggesting a long-term pulsing evolution of active margins. To appraise this emerging view of a highly dynamic subduction system and identify the driving mechanisms, detailed studies on high pressure-low temperature (HP-LT) exhumed accretionary complexes are crucial as they open a window on the deformation history affecting the whole forearc region.

In this study, we combine structural and petrological observations, Raman spectroscopy on carbonaceous material, Rb/Sr multi-mineral geochronology and thermo-mechanical numerical models to unravel with an unprecedented resolution the tectono-metamorphic evolution of the Late-Cenozoic HP-LT nappe stack cropping out in western Crete (Hellenic subduction zone). A consistent decrease of peak temperatures and deformation ages toward the base of the nappe pile allows us to identify a minimum of three basal accretion episodes between ca. 24 Ma and ca. 15 Ma. On the basis of structural evidences and pressure-temperature-time-strain predictions from numerical modeling, we argue that each of these mass-flux events triggered a pulse in the strain rate, sometimes associated with a switch of the stress regime (i.e., compressional/extensional). Such accretion-controlled transient deformation episodes last at most ca. 1-2 Myr and may explain the poly-phased structural records of exhumed rocks without involving changes in far-field stress conditions. This long-term background tectonic signal controlled by deep accretionary processes plays a part in active deformations monitored at subduction margins, though it may remain blind to most of geodetic methods because of superimposed shorter-timescale transients, such as seismic-cycle-related events.

How to cite: Menant, A., Oncken, O., Glodny, J., Angiboust, S., Jolivet, L., Augier, R., Bessière, E., and Gerya, T.: Accretion-controlled forearc deformation pulses recorded by high-pressure paleo-accretionary wedges: the example of the Hellenic subduction zone, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-5897, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-5897, 2021.

Rilla C. McKeegan, Victor E. Guevara, Adam F. Holt, and Cailey B. Condit

The dominant mechanisms that control the exhumation of subducted rocks and how these mechanisms evolve through time in a subduction zone remain unclear. Dynamic models of subduction zones suggest that their thermal structures evolve from subduction initiation to maturity. The series of metamorphic reactions that occur within the slab, resultant density, and buoyancy with respect to the mantle wedge will co-evolve with the thermal structure. We combine dynamic models of subduction zone thermal structure with phase equilibria modeling to place constraints on the dominant controls on the depth limits of exhumation. This is done across the temporal evolution of a subduction zone for various endmember lithologic associations observed in exhumed high-pressure terranes: sedimentary and serpentinite mélanges, and oceanic tectonic slices.

Initial modeling suggests that both serpentinite and sedimentary mélanges remain positively buoyant with respect to the mantle wedge throughout all stages of subduction (up to 65 Myr), and for the spectrum of naturally constrained ratios of mafic blocks to serpentinite/sedimentary matrix. In these settings, exhumation depth limits and the “point of no return” (c. 2.3 GPa) are not directly limited by buoyancy, but potentially rheological changes in the slab at the blueschist-eclogite transition stemming from: the switch from amphibole-dominated to pyroxene-dominated rheology and/or dehydration embrittlement. These mechanisms may increase the possibility of brittle failure and hence promote detachment of the slab top into the subduction channel. For the range of temperatures recorded by exhumed serpentinite mélanges, the locus of dehydration for altered MORB at the slab top coincides with the point of no return (2.3 GPa) between 35 and 40 Myr, suggesting a strong temporal dependence on deep exhumation in the subduction channel. 

Tectonic slices composed of 50% mafic rocks and 50% serpentinized slab mantle show a temporal dependence on the depth limits of positive buoyancy. For the range of temperatures recorded by exhumed tectonic slices, the upper pressure limit of positive buoyancy is ~2 GPa, and is only crossed between ~30 and 40 Myr after subduction initiation. Some exhumed tectonic slices record much higher pressures (2.5 GPa); thus, other mechanisms or lithologic combinations may also play a significant role in determining the exhumation limits of tectonic slices. 

Future work includes constraining how the loci of dehydration vary through time for different degrees of oceanic crust alteration, how exhumation limits and mechanisms may change with different subducting plate ages, and calculating how initial exhumation velocities may vary through time. Further comparison with the rock record will constrain the parameters that control the timing and limits of exhumation in subduction zones.

How to cite: McKeegan, R. C., Guevara, V. E., Holt, A. F., and Condit, C. B.: Exhumation of subducted mafic rocks in a dynamically evolving thermal structure: constraints from phase equilibria modelling, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-13868, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-13868, 2021.

Daniel Rutte, Joshua Garber, Andrew Kylander-Clark, and Paul Renne

We investigated a suite of metabasite blocks from serpentinite matrix and shale matrix mélanges of the California Coast Ranges. Our new data set consists of 40Ar/39Ar dates of amphibole and phengite and U‐Pb dates of metamorphic zircon. Combined with published geochronology, including prograde Lu‐Hf garnet ages from the same blocks, we can reconstruct the timing and time scales of prograde and retrograde metamorphism of individual blocks. In particular we find that exhumation from amphibole‐eclogite facies conditions occurred as a single episode at 165–157 Ma, with an apparent southward younging trend. The rate and timing of exhumation were initially uniform (when comparing individual blocks) and fast (with cooling rates up to ~140°C/Ma). In the cooler and shallower blueschist facies, exhumation slowed and became less uniform among blocks. Considering the subduction zone system, the high‐grade exhumation temporally correlates with a magmatic arc pulse (Sierra Nevada) and the termination of forearc spreading (Coast Range Ophiolite). Our findings suggest that a geodynamic one‐time event led to exhumation of amphibole‐eclogite facies rocks. We propose that interaction of the Franciscan subduction zone with a spreading ridge led to extraction of the forearc mantle wedge from its position between forearc crust and subducting crust. The extraction led to fast and uniform exhumation of subducted rocks into the blueschist facies. We also show that the Franciscan subduction zone did not undergo significant cooling over time and that its initiation was not coeval with blueschist‐facies metamorphism of the Red Ant schist of the Sierra Nevada foothills.

How to cite: Rutte, D., Garber, J., Kylander-Clark, A., and Renne, P.: An Exhumation Pulse From the Nascent Franciscan Subduction Zone (California, USA), EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-12967, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-12967, 2021.

Guillaume Bonnet, Christian Chopin, Andrew Kylander-Clark, and Bradley Hacker

The Dora-Maira massif (Western Alps) is among the most studied subducted continental terranes in the world. It consists of a tectonic stack of <km-thick units metamorphosed at different grades, from blueschist to Ultra-High-Pressure (UHP) eclogite. While the UHP unit has been extensively studied, little is known about the chronology of subduction and exhumation of other units.

We here present new petrological observations and U-Pb geochronology on rutile and titanite to constrain the prograde, peak and retrograde evolution of distinct units.

 Rutile U-Pb geochronology on peak UHP assemblages is compared to existing results and is examined in light of closure temperatures for Pb diffusion. The results confirm peak metamorphism at ~35 Ma and fast cooling rates. This method is then applied to colder units (where closure temperatures are higher than peak temperatures, as shown by the preservation of the Permian age of pre-Alpine rutiles) and yields peak metamorphic ages of the different units between 39 and 32 Ma.

Rutile and titanite U-Pb geochronology help constrain the age of pervasive retrogression in the Dora Maira massif which is likely synchronous with the early exhumation of the lowermost continental unit and the transition from subduction to collision at 32-31 Ma.

We finally examine the possibility and potential consequences of melt circulation in the UHP unit during subduction.

How to cite: Bonnet, G., Chopin, C., Kylander-Clark, A., and Hacker, B.: Constraints on continental subduction in the Dora-Maira massif from rutile and titanite U-Pb geochronology , EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-15318, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-15318, 2021.

Diego Rojo, Mauricio Calderón, Matias Ghiglione, Rodrigo Javier Suárez, Paulo Quezada, Francisco Hervé, Marly Babinski, and C. Mark Fanning

The Eastern Andean Metamorphic Complex (EAMC) in southwestern Patagonia (4°-52°S) is a 450 km long belt mainly composed by low-grade metasedimentary rocks of Upper Devonian-lower Carboniferous, and Permian-lower Triassic ages. Previous works have suggested a passive margin environment for the deposition of the protolith.  The EAMC comprise scarce interleaved tectonic slices of marbles, metabasites, and exceptional serpentinite bodies. At Lago O´Higgins-San Martin (48°30’S-49°00’S) the metasedimentary sucessions are tectonically juxtaposed with lenses of pillowed metabasalts and greenschists having OIB, N-MORB, BABB and IAT geochemical affinities. The Nd-isotopic composition of metabasalts is characterized by εNd(t=350 Ma) of +6 and +7. The metabasalts show no signal of crustal contamination, instead, the mantle source was probably modified by subduction components. New and already published provenance data based on mineralogy, geochemistry and zircon geochronology indicate that the quartz-rich protolith of metasandstones were deposited during late Devonian-early Carboniferous times (youngest single zircon ages around of latest Devonian-earliest Carboniferous times) sourced from igneous and/or sedimentary rocks located in the interior of Gondwana, as the Deseado Massif, for instance. Noticeable, the detrital age patterns of all samples reveal a prominent population of late Neoproterozoic zircons, probably directly derived from igneous and/or metaigneous rocks of the Brasiliano/Pan-African orogen or from reworked material from variably metamorphosed sedimentary units that crops out at the same latitudes in the extra-Andean region of Patagonia. We propose that the protolith of metabasites formed part of the upper part of an oceanic-like lithosphere generated in a marginal basin above a supra-subduction zone, where plume-related oceanic island volcanoes were generated. The closure of the marginal basin, probably in mid-Carboniferous times, or soon after. The oceanic lithosphere was likely underthrusted within an east-to-northeast-dipping subduction zone, where ophiolitic rocks and metasedimentary sequences were tectonically interleaved at the base of an accretionary wedge.

How to cite: Rojo, D., Calderón, M., Ghiglione, M., Suárez, R. J., Quezada, P., Hervé, F., Babinski, M., and Fanning, C. M.: Petrotectonic implications of metabasites of the Eastern Andean Metamorphic Complex at Lago O´Higgins-San Martin, southern Patagonia, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-3543, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-3543, 2021.

Wenbin Ning, Timothy Kusky, Junpeng Wang, Lu Wang, Hao Deng, Ali Polat, Bo Huang, Hongtao Peng, and Peng Feng

Subduction initiation and arc–polarity reversal have rarely been recognized in the Archean rock record. We document Neoarchean subduction initiation, fore-arc magmatism, and an arc–polarity reversal event from the Zunhua structural belt along the eastern margin of the Central Orogenic Belt (COB) of the North China Craton (NCC). The Zunhua ophiolitic mélange within the Zunhua structural belt is a mappable unit characterized by blocks of metamorphosed harzburgite/lherzolite, podiform chromite –bearing dunite, pyroxenite, amphibolite, metabasites (basalt and diabase) with rare intermediate volcanics, chert, and tectonic lenses of banded iron formation in a strongly sheared metapelitic matrix. New geochronological and geochemical analyses of magmatic blocks within the ophiolitic mélange show that the crustal magmatic rocks were produced in a fore-arc region at 2.55–2.52 Ga from depletion of the harzburgitic–lherzolitic mantle tectonites. Chemical, petrological, and temporal links between the depleted mantle blocks, and the suite of magmatic blocks derived from partial melting and metasomatism of these depleted mantle blocks, unequivocally shows that they represent part of the same original Neoarchean fore-arc ophiolite suite. After formation and accretion in the oceanic realm, the mélange was emplaced on the continental margin of the Eastern Block between 2.52–2.50 Ga, and underwent two stages of metamorphism at ca. 2.48–2.46 Ga and 1.81 Ga. Metamorphosed intermediate–mafic volcanic blocks exhibit systematic successive geochemical variations, from MORB-like to volcanic arc-like, and the N-MORB-like meta-basalts show remarkable similarity with the subduction initiation-related Izu–Bonin–Mariana (IBM) fore-arc basalts. We suggest that the Zunhua fore-arc complex records continuous geodynamic processes from subduction initiation to arc magmatism. The Zunhua ophiolitic mélange is part of a ca. 2.5 Ga suture between an oceanic arc of the COB and Eastern Block of the NCC. After the arc–continent collision, an arc–polarity reversal event has been proposed to initiate a new eastward–dipping subduction zone on the western side of the COB. This arc–polarity reversal can be traced for more than 1,600 km along the length of the orogen, similar in scale, geometry, and duration between collision and polarity flip to the present-day arc–polarity reversal of the Sunda–Banda arc during its ongoing collision with the Australia continent. This indicates that a life cycle of an Archean subduction zone, including birth (subduction initiation), maturity (arc magmatism), death (arc-continent collision) and re-birth (arc–polarity reversal), is recorded in the Zunhua ophiolitic mélange, and the geodynamics of plate tectonics at the end of the Archean was similar to that of today.


How to cite: Ning, W., Kusky, T., Wang, J., Wang, L., Deng, H., Polat, A., Huang, B., Peng, H., and Feng, P.: Life cycle of an Archean subduction zone from initiation to arc–polarity reversal: Insights from the Zunhua ophiolitic mélange, North China Craton , EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-3833, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-3833, 2021.

Hongyuan Zhang, Zhibin Lei, Bo Yang, Qing Liu, Haijun Zhang, Yongquan Li, and Chenhang Lv

A 1:50000 regional survey, covering an area of about 2000 km2, was carried out in the Shangrimuce area of Qilian Mountain in Northwest China. The results show that during Caledonian, the northern margin of the Central Qilian block experienced collision with mature island arcs and subsequently northward expansion. In the Shangrimuce study area, five geological units have been identified; they are, form south to north, back-arc basin, early Ordovician island arc, inter arc basin, middle Late Ordovician island arc, and fore-arc and oceanic lithosphere amalgamation zone. 

(1) back-arc basin. In the Yangyuchi- Shule River- Cuorigang- Wawusi area, there may be a back-arc spreading basin, and there should be spreading basins in this area. It is speculated that there was a northward reverse subduction in the late Ordovician, accompanied by a syenite body, a broad spectrum dyke swarms and an accretionary wedge zone in the whole area.

(2) early Ordovician island arc. In the Shangrimuce-Dander area, the Proterozoic basement granitic gneiss, the early Ordovician island arc block and the high-pressure geological body all occur in the form of thrust horses, forming a double metamorphic belt, which reveals the existence of ocean subduction to south in the early Ordovician. 

(3) inter arc basin. On both banks of Tuolai River to the east of Yanglong Township, there are early Middle Ordovician inter-arc basins with oceanic crust. 

(4) middle Late Ordovician island arc. To the north of Tuolai River, there is a middle Late Ordovician island arc belt. Both sides of the island arc zone experienced strong ductile shear deformation, which recorded a complex arc-continent collision. 

(5) fore-arc and oceanic lithosphere amalgamation zone (Fig.1). The Yushigou area has developed a fore-arc and oceanic lithospheric amalgamation zone, with weakly deformed fore-arc flysch basin, strongly deformed siliceous rocks, pillow Basalt, diabase, gabbro, peridotite and other rock assemblages.

Combined with the characteristics of arc-continent collision zone in the Western Pacific, there are two stages of shear zone series (Fig.2). One is ductile shear zones formed by the South dipping gneissic belt, revealing the existence of oceanic subduction accretion wedge and emplacement of high-pressure rocks. Another superimposed one is north dipping. This indicates that the arc-continent collision caused by back-arc reverse subduction, which ultimately controls the overall geometric and kinematic characteristics of the shear zones in the region.