EGU24-7864, updated on 08 Mar 2024
EGU General Assembly 2024
© Author(s) 2024. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Folding of subducting slabs controls their deep thermal structures in the mantle transition zone 

Fanny Garel1, Nestor Cerpa1, Hana Čížková2, Xavier Vergeron1, Diane Arcay1, Serge Lallemand1, and Cécilia Cadio1
Fanny Garel et al.
  • 1Géosciences Montpellier, Univerisy of Montpellier & CNRS, France (
  • 2Department of Geophysics, Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic

The thermal structure of slabs is thought to be a key parameter for deep-focus earthquakes in subduction zones, since most proposed mechanisms, such as transformational faulting, dehydration reactions or shear instabilities, are controlled by temperature. However, the classical (shallow) thermal parameter "phi", associated to the downward advection of isotherms and approximated as slab age x sinking velocity (Kirby et al., 1996), does not explain deep-focus seismicity occurring in relativelty “hot” subduction zones, e.g. under Bolivia.


On the other hand, the various morphologies if subducting slabs imaged by seismic tomography reveal reveal the diversity of slab deformation histories in the transition zone as they reach the high-viscosity lower mantle, e.g. folding, deflection, vertical piling.


Using numerical models of subduction dynamics, we propose here to characterize the spatio-temporal evolution of deep thermal structures of subducted slabs throughout various subduction scenarios. We investigate how the maximum depth reached by a given isotherm vary through time (up to 200 km for a given subduction zone). In particular, we evidence the key control of the history of slab-folding in the transition zone (folding amplitude and frequency), associated to e.g. slab viscosity and buoyancy.


Hence the past dynamics of subduction zones, in addition to present-day subduction parameters, has to be taken into account to predict slabs thermal structures.


This work is part of ANR project RheoBreak (ANR-21-CE49-0009).

How to cite: Garel, F., Cerpa, N., Čížková, H., Vergeron, X., Arcay, D., Lallemand, S., and Cadio, C.: Folding of subducting slabs controls their deep thermal structures in the mantle transition zone , EGU General Assembly 2024, Vienna, Austria, 14–19 Apr 2024, EGU24-7864,, 2024.