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Dynamical modeling of trench retreat driven by the slab interaction with the mantle transition zone


We present the 2-D self-consistent dynamical model of interactions of a subducting slab with the 410-km and 660-km phase boundaries to further our understanding of the relation between the slab stagnation/penetration and the trench migration. Our model takes into account freely-movable plate boundaries and the difference between tensional and compressional yield strengths in the lithosphere. For the case in which the tensional strength is weaker than the compressional one, the negative buoyancy of the subducting slab produces extension of the overriding lithosphere and, accordingly, the trench retreats. Interactions with the 410-km and 660-km phasetransition boundaries further promote the trench retreat, and the dip angle of the slab is substantially decreased. This enhances the resistance of the 660-km phase boundary against the slab penetration. Slab weakening caused by the grain-size reduction in the transition zone may result in a horizontally-lying slab and trench retreat.


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Correspondence to Michio Tagawa.

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Tagawa, M., Nakakuki, T. & Tajima, F. Dynamical modeling of trench retreat driven by the slab interaction with the mantle transition zone. Earth Planet Sp 59, 65–74 (2007).

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Key words

  • Subduction
  • tensional strength
  • trench retreat
  • grain-size reduction