Investigating Mechanisms of South American Flat Subduction

Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Jiashun Hu, Armando Hermosillo and Lijun Liu, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Champaign, IL, United States
Flat-slab subduction is a pronounced tectonic phenomenon occurring at 10% of the convergence plate boundaries today. Causes of flat-slab formation remain debated, where proposed mechanisms include subduction of buoyancy anomalies such as oceanic plateaus and aseismic ridges, dynamic suction from thickened overriding plate, and enhanced subduction speed and reduced seafloor ages. South America represents an ideal place to test these hypotheses, with ongoing flat subduction as well as possible flat-slab scenarios during the geological past. Here, we use geodynamic models with plate kinematics and seafloor ages as boundary conditions to reproduce the history of South American subduction since the Late Cretaceous, during which we attempt to investigate the dynamic causes and impacts of flat subduction. The modeling results will be compared to present-day upper mantle slab geometry through slab 1.0 [Hayes et al, 2012] and lower mantle structures in several tomography models including GyPSuM [Simmons et al, 2010] and S20RTS [Ritsema et al. 1999].