EGU24-19667, updated on 11 Mar 2024
EGU General Assembly 2024
© Author(s) 2024. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Dynamical evolution of forearc subsidence controlled by slab geometry

Francisco Bolrão and Wouter Schellart
Francisco Bolrão and Wouter Schellart
  • Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Faculty of Science, Department of Earth Sciences, Netherlands (

The forearc is the region of the overriding plate (OP) that physically interacts with the subducting plate (SP) and is expected to record critical information about subduction dynamics. A way to access such information is through its topography, which presents a wide variability across the natural prototypes. Some forearcs show a peculiar topography characterised by a forearc high next to the trench and a forearc basin in between this high and the magmatic arc (e.g. Alaska, Java, Central Chile). Previous studies have proposed that such topographic signature is a consequence of the gradient of the vertical component of the suction force along the plate interface (e.g., Hassani et al. 1997, Chen et al. 2017). 
Our study focuses on the role of several subduction parameters in shaping the topography of the forearc, namely the OP and SP thicknesses, OP viscosity, and slab dip angle. To carry out this investigation, we developed a series of buoyancy-driven and isoviscous models using analogue techniques, where we applied a stereoscopic particle image velocimetry technique to monitor the topography of the forearc.
So far, we have analysed the impact of the OP thickness, which shows a negative correlation with the magnitude of the forearc basin. Thicker OPs constrain trench retreat, which forces the SP to move trenchward,with subduction occurring mostly through down-dip slab sinking. Consequently, the suction force created at the plate interface by hinge retreat will decrease, resulting in shallower forearc basins. Moreover, the wavelength of the forearc basin is also affect, with thicker OP producing wider basins. Such observation suggests that the previously proposed mechanism that shapes the forearc topography is correlated with the subduction partitioning so that the magnitude of the forearc basin increases as the subduction is increasingly accommodated by slab retreat.

How to cite: Bolrão, F. and Schellart, W.: Dynamical evolution of forearc subsidence controlled by slab geometry, EGU General Assembly 2024, Vienna, Austria, 14–19 Apr 2024, EGU24-19667,, 2024.