MAL11 | Augustus Love Medal Lecture by Thorsten W. Becker & GD Division Outstanding ECS Award Lecture by Ágnes Király


Augustus Love Medal Lecture by Thorsten W. Becker & GD Division Outstanding ECS Award Lecture by Ágnes Király
Convener: Jeroen van Hunen
| Mon, 24 Apr, 19:00–20:00 (CEST)
Room G2
Mon, 19:00

Session assets

Orals: Mon, 24 Apr | Room G2

The oral presentations are given in a hybrid format supported by a Zoom meeting featuring on-site and virtual presentations. The button to access the Zoom meeting appears just before the time block starts.
Chairperson: Jeroen van Hunen
GD Division Outstanding Early Career Scientist Award Lecture
On-site presentation
Ágnes Király

When cold and dense oceanic lithosphere sinks into the mantle at subduction zones, it pushes weaker asthenospheric mantle away, creating specific flow patterns. Traditionally mantle flow is divided into two components: trench-perpendicular poloidal flow operating in a vertical plane and 3D toroidal flow around the slab edges. In the past years, we have learned that both poloidal and toroidal mantle flow around slabs effectively connects nearby subduction zones, deforming their slabs and upper plates, and modifying their patterns of volcanism and uplift/subsidence. In turn, the two-way dynamic interaction between the subduction zones also affects the flow pattern, and thus impacts the volcanism, surface uplift and lithospheric deformation (Király et al., 2021).

At present, our best constraints on mantle flow patterns around subduction zones originate from seismic anisotropy observations, which can be interpreted based on 3D geodynamic models. In the mantle, seismic anisotropy originates from crystallographic preferred orientation (CPO), which derives from the anisotropic nature of olivine crystals. Due to olivine’s orthorhombic symmetry and the different strengths of its three slip systems, olivine crystals are anisotropic in their elastic and viscous properties. Hence, when many olivine crystals are aligned within mantle rock (i.e., CPO is developed in an area of the mantle), the mantle will deform anisotropically, both for seismic wave transmission and viscous flow. Since CPO occurs as a response to deformation, seismic anisotropy directions are often read as the recent mantle flow direction in an area. However, there are a few complications to this simple one-to-one interpretation. First, because the CPO depends on the deformation history of the mantle, it might not reflect the current flow orientation if the deformation direction has changed through time (Ribe, 1989). Second, CPO formation depends on stress and on water content (Korenaga and Karato, 2008), which in some cases allows texture to form with a fast axis perpendicular to the deformation direction. Third, the interpretation of seismic anomalies is often difficult because geodynamic models do not incorporate enough complexity to model all the intricacies of the flow. This problem can occur due to complex anisotropic signals from crustal layers, from more complicated geodynamic settings (e.g., multiple slabs), or from a modified flow pattern that arises due to the viscous anisotropy associated with the texture itself.

In this presentation, I will use the Mediterranean area to highlight how including multiple slabs and accounting for viscous anisotropy can eventually help us to interpret the seismic observations from this geodynamically complex region.



Király, Á., Funiciello, F., Capitanio, F.A., and Faccenna, C., 2021, Dynamic interactions between subduction zones: Global and Planetary Change, p. 103501, doi:10.1016/j.gloplacha.2021.103501.

Korenaga, J., and Karato, S., 2008, A new analysis of experimental data on olivine rheology: Journal of Geophysical Research, v. 113, p. 1–23, doi:10.1029/2007JB005100.

Ribe, N.M., 1989, Seismic Anisotropy and Mantle Flow: Journal of Geophysical Research, v. 94, p. 4213–4223.

How to cite: Király, Á.: Mantle flow around subduction zones: evolution through time, EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 23–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-9109,, 2023.

Augustus Love Medal Lecture
On-site presentation
Thorsten Becker

Plate tectonics is the surface expression of mantle convection, but many aspects of our present-day tectonic setting depend on how the solid Earth system has evolved over time. I touch on work across a range of spatio-temporal scales addressing how convective memory can be used to validate tectonic scenarios to better understand plate boundary evolution. Seismic anisotropy in the upper mantle is one recorder of convective deformation, and the duration over which textures are reworked controls the lifespan of memory. This means that the lithosphere may allow distinguishing between different plate tectonic scenarios over the last ~50 Ma. Uncertainties about those scenarios and slab rheology imply that our understanding of subduction mass transport remains incomplete, leading to ambiguities about the deep mantle record of subduction. One particular issue is how slabs are deformed upon bending in the trench. I discuss results from convection models with rheological memory which affects subduction dynamics and plume-slab interactions. Within global, plate generating convection models, reactivation of damage zones increases the frequency of plate reorganizations, and hence reduces the dominant periods of surface heat loss fluctuations. Inheritance of lithospheric damage dominates surface tectonics over any local boundary stabilizing effects of rheological weakening. Progressive generation of weak zones may counteract any effects of reduced convective vigor throughout planetary cooling, with implications for the frequency of orogeny throughout Wilson cycles. I close by a consideration of the effects of local rheological damage weakening vs. the longest recorder of geological history of all, the continental lithosphere.

How to cite: Becker, T.: On convective memory, EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 23–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-3978,, 2023.