EGU24-12008, updated on 09 Mar 2024
EGU General Assembly 2024
© Author(s) 2024. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

On The Timing of Collision Induced Slab Break-Off and Polarity Reversal

Erkan Gün1,2, Philip Heron1,2, Russell Pysklywec2, Gültekin Topuz3, and Oğuz Göğüş3
Erkan Gün et al.
  • 1Department of Physical & Environmental Sciences, University of Toronto Scarborough, Toronto, Canada
  • 2Department of Earth Sciences, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada
  • 3Eurasia Institute of Earth Sciences, Istanbul Technical University, Istanbul, Turkey

The subduction process is the main driver of tectonic plate movements and can carry different-sized, thick crustal materials (i.e., continents, oceanic plateaux, seamounts, volcanic arcs) to the subduction trenches through the consumption of oceanic plates. The arrival of these allochthonous terranes to the subduction channel and their accretion to the overriding plate (fully or partly) can often halt the subduction process. Such a subduction-choking event is usually followed by slab break-off or polarity reversal if an ocean-ocean subduction setting is present. While these two types of post-subduction termination events are well-documented in the literature, their timing following a collision is often overlooked.

Here, we present an extensive compilation of scientific literature that shows slab break-off and subduction polarity reversal (flip) events following a collision can happen in a very short time interval. Evidence from contemporary and paleo-subduction zones (i.e., Ontong Java Plateau, Taiwan/Ryukyu Arc, Banda Arc, Philippine Trench, Caribbean Oceanic Plateau, Central Apennines, India-Asia collision) suggests that these major subduction dynamic changes can occur, on average, in 2.5 to 4.5 Myr. The findings of our numerical subduction models are in accordance with the literature and demonstrate that the required time for collision-induced break-off and polarity flip can be as short as ~2 Myr. Our recent numerical modeling work, focusing on allochthonous terranes (microcontinents and oceanic plateaux), explains a potential mechanism for these fast geodynamic events. The slab pull force can stretch and weaken the trench side of drifting terranes. Following arrival in the subduction channel, this weakened portion of terranes is easier to break, yielding a fast detachment of subducting slabs.

How to cite: Gün, E., Heron, P., Pysklywec, R., Topuz, G., and Göğüş, O.: On The Timing of Collision Induced Slab Break-Off and Polarity Reversal, EGU General Assembly 2024, Vienna, Austria, 14–19 Apr 2024, EGU24-12008,, 2024.