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Southward expanding plate coupling due to variation in sediment subduction as a cause of Andean growth

Hu, Jiashun and Liu, Lijun and Gurnis, Michael (2021) Southward expanding plate coupling due to variation in sediment subduction as a cause of Andean growth. Nature Communications, 12 . Art. No. 7271. ISSN 2041-1723. PMCID PMC8671423. doi:10.1038/s41467-021-27518-8.

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Growth of the Andes has been attributed to Cenozoic subduction. Although climatic and tectonic processes have been proposed to be first-order mechanisms, their interaction and respective contributions remain largely unclear. Here, we apply three-dimensional, fully-dynamic subduction models to investigate the effect of trench-axial sediment transport and subduction on Andean growth, a mechanism that involves both climatic and tectonic processes. We find that the thickness of trench-fill sediments, a proxy of plate coupling (with less sediments causing stronger coupling), exerts an important influence on the pattern of crustal shortening along the Andes. The southward migrating Juan Fernandez Ridge acts as a barrier to the northward flowing trench sediments, thus expanding the zone of plate coupling southward through time. Consequently, the predicted history of Andean shortening is consistent with observations. Southward expanding crustal shortening matches the kinematic history of inferred compression. These results demonstrate the importance of climate-tectonic interaction on mountain building.

Item Type:Article
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URLURL TypeDescription CentralArticle ItemComputational Infrastructure for Geodynamics (CIG) ItemPyGPlates
Hu, Jiashun0000-0003-1007-6837
Gurnis, Michael0000-0003-1704-597X
Additional Information:© The Author(s) 2021. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit Received 12 July 2021; Accepted 22 November 2021; Published 14 December 2021. We used the open-source software PyGPlates to reconstruct the paleo-structures. L.L. and J.H. were supported by the National Science Foundation through EAR-1565640 and EAR-1554554. M.G. and J.H. were supported by the National Science Foundation through EAR-1645775. J.H. was also partially supported by the National Science Foundation of China through project 42174106. Computations were carried out on the NSF-supported Frontera supercomputers at the Texas Advanced Computer Center and were also supported by Center for Computational Science and Engineering of Southern University of Science and Technology. Data availability: The data supporting the findings of this study are available within the paper. The Source Data of the figures are provided as a supplementary file. Source data are provided with this paper. Code availability: The computational code CitcomS is available at the Computational Infrastructure for Geodynamics (CIG), The python library PyGPlates that provides the functionality to reconstruct the paleo-tectonic features can be found at Author Contributions: J.H. conceived the study and performed the numerical experiments. L.L. and M.G. provided valuable advices throughout the study. All the authors participated in manuscript preparation. The authors declare no competing interests. Peer Review Information : Nature Communications thanks Sebastian Zapata for their contribution to the peer review of this work. Peer reviewer reports are available.
Group:Seismological Laboratory
Funding AgencyGrant Number
National Natural Science Foundation of China42174106
Subject Keywords:Geodynamics; Geology; Geophysics; Palaeoclimate; Tectonics
PubMed Central ID:PMC8671423
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20211215-858519500
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Hu, J., Liu, L. & Gurnis, M. Southward expanding plate coupling due to variation in sediment subduction as a cause of Andean growth. Nat Commun 12, 7271 (2021).
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:112471
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:15 Dec 2021 20:12
Last Modified:10 Jan 2022 20:51

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