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Slab horizontal subduction and slab tearing beneath East Asia

Ma, Pengfei and Liu, Shaofeng and Gurnis, Michael and Zhang, Bo (2019) Slab horizontal subduction and slab tearing beneath East Asia. Geophysical Research Letters, 46 (10). pp. 5161-5169. ISSN 0094-8276. doi:10.1029/2018gl081703.

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The present‐day architecture of subducted slabs in the mantle as inferred from seismic tomography is a record of plate tectonics through geological time. The unusually large slab that lies nearly horizontally above the 660‐km mantle discontinuity beneath East Asia is presumably from subduction of the Pacific plate. Numerical models have been used to explore the mechanical and geophysical factors that contribute to slab stagnation, but the evolution of this horizontal structure is not fully understood because of uncertainties in the plate‐tectonic history and mantle heterogeneity. Here we show that forward mantle‐flow models constrained by updated tectonic reconstructions can essentially fit major features in the seismic tomography beneath East Asia. Specifically, significant tearing propagated through the subducted western Pacific slab as the Philippine Sea plate rotated clockwise during the Miocene, leading to internal slab segmentation. We believe this tearing associated with Philippine Sea plate rotation also affects the horizontal configuration of slabs.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription
Ma, Pengfei0000-0001-8078-6784
Liu, Shaofeng0000-0002-6667-3721
Gurnis, Michael0000-0003-1704-597X
Zhang, Bo0000-0003-0212-8879
Additional Information:© 2019 American Geophysical Union. Received 15 DEC 2018; Accepted 25 APR 2019; Accepted article online 29 APR 2019; Published online 21 MAY 2019. L. S. F., M. P. F., and Z. B. acknowledge the funding from the Strategic Priority Research Program (B) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (grant XDB18000000), National Key R&D Plan (grant 2017YFC0601405), and Natural Science Foundation of China (41820104004, 91114203, and 41572189). M. G. was supported by the National Science Foundation (EAR‐1645775). Figures 1-4 were prepared by using the Generic Mapping Tools program (Wessel & Smith, 1998). We thank D. Bower for valuable discussion on data assimilation, W. Leng and T. Yang for their assistance with CitcomS, and S. Zahirovic and D. Müller for generously sharing software for seafloor age grids. We also thank J. Ritsema, S. Honda, and an anonymous reviewer for their very detailed reviews and constructive comments. The data making up the model cross sections used here have been deposited in the Caltech Data Repository ( and assigned DOI: 10.22002/D1.1237. More detailed information of tectonic events sequence and method can be found in the supporting information.
Group:Seismological Laboratory
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Chinese Academy of SciencesXDB18000000
National Key Basic Research Program of China2017YFC0601405
National Natural Science Foundation of China41820104004
National Natural Science Foundation of China91114203
National Natural Science Foundation of China41572189
Subject Keywords:Philippine Sea plate; Triple junction migration; Slab tearing; Horizontal slab; Mantle flow; Trench retreat
Issue or Number:10
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20190501-092308919
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Ma, P., Liu, S., Gurnis, M., & Zhang, B. (2019). Slab horizontal subduction and slab tearing beneath East Asia. Geophysical Research Letters, 46, 5161–5169.
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:95126
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:01 May 2019 18:34
Last Modified:16 Nov 2021 17:10

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