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Published April 2020 | public
Journal Article Open

Subduction Duration and Slab Dip


The dip angles of slabs are among the clearest characteristics of subduction zones, but the factors that control them remain obscure. Here, slab dip angles and subduction parameters, including subduction duration, the nature of the overriding plate, slab age, and convergence rate, are determined for 153 transects along subduction zones for the present day. We present a comprehensive tabulation of subduction duration based on isotopic ages of arc initiation and stratigraphic, structural, plate tectonic and seismic indicators of subduction initiation. We present two ages for subduction zones, a long‐term age and a reinitiation age. Using cross correlation and multivariate regression, we find that (1) subduction duration is the primary parameter controlling slab dips with slabs tending to have shallower dips at subduction zones that have been in existence longer; (2) the long‐term age of subduction duration better explains variation of shallow dip than reinitiation age; (3) overriding plate nature could influence shallow dip angle, where slabs below continents tend to have shallower dips; (4) slab age contributes to slab dip, with younger slabs having steeper shallow dips; and (5) the relations between slab dip and subduction parameters are depth dependent, where the ability of subduction duration and overriding plate nature to explain observed variation decreases with depth. The analysis emphasizes the importance of subduction history and the long‐term regional state of a subduction zone in determining slab dip and is consistent with mechanical models of subduction.

Additional Information

© 2020 American Geophysical Union. Received 10 DEC 2019; Accepted 5 MAR 2020; Accepted article online 9 MAR 2020. We acknowledge the support from the National Science Foundation under EAR‐1645775. We thank Adam Holt and two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments on an earlier version of our manuscript. The subduction parameters are compiled using PyGPlates (http://www.gplates.org/docs.html). All data used in the current study are available in the online version of the paper. Data from this study can also be found on CaltechDATA (doi:10.22002/D1.1380).

Attached Files

Published - 2019GC008862.pdf

Supplemental Material - ggge22164-sup-0002-table_si-s01.pdf

Supplemental Material - ggge22164-sup-0003-table_si-s02.pdf

Supplemental Material - ggge22164-sup-0005-text_si-s01.pdf


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