Plume-slab interaction driven by rollback subduction

Kelsey A Druken, University of Rhode Island


Subduction zones, mid-ocean spreading centers and mantle plumes are three of the largest sources for volcanism on Earth. With subduction as the driving tectonic force, these systems are responsible for the evolution of both the crust and mantle and as a result are important processes in our understanding of the solid Earth. Mantle plume processes, however, are still strongly debated within the community, particularly when occurring near subduction zones. Using both laboratory (i.e. analog) and numerical modeling techniques, we examine the dynamic interaction between subduction-driven and plume-driven flow. Results highlight the weak nature of buoyant plumes in comparison to the dominant slab-induced circulation. As a consequence of the subduction-induced flow, surface expressions differ significantly from traditional plume expectations. Variations in slab sinking style and plume position lead to a range in plume head and conduit melting signatures, as well as migrating hotspots. ^ Motivated by the debated origin of recent (< 20 Ma) volcanism in the Northwest U.S., we also report results of the evolution of finite strain within rollback-induced as well as plume-driven flow fields. If the patterns differ between background subduction and plume structures, seismic anisotropy observations could help distinguish the plume and non plume models that are suggested for the region. We find rollback-induced horizontal shear causes predominantly trench-normal strain alignment in the backarc mantle wedge in contrast to longitudinal subduction which, despite the simple flow field, results in complex and variable orientations from the lack of strong horizontal shear. Splitting observations from the High Lava Plains region with the Northwest U.S. are in good agreement with the trench-normal laboratory predictions of strain alignment. Alignment within plume heads are found to exhibit striking tangential patterns that are perpendicular to the plume-driven flow. While we show that alignment does not reflect the direction of plume-driven flow, the study does show strong patterns of alignment that can be used as new guidelines for seismic interpretations.^

Subject Area

Geology|Geophysics|Plate Tectonics

Recommended Citation

Kelsey A Druken, "Plume-slab interaction driven by rollback subduction" (2012). Dissertations and Master's Theses (Campus Access). Paper AAI3499812.