Useful geodynamic distinction of continental collision zones can be based on the degree of rheological coupling of colliding plates. Coupled active collision zones (which can be either retreating or advancing) are characterized by a thick crustal wedge and compressive stresses (i.e. Himalaya and Western Alps), while decoupled end-members (which are always retreating) are defined by a thin crustal wedge and bi-modal distribution of stresses (i.e., compressional in the foreland and extensional in the inner part of the orogen, Northern Apennines). In order to understand physical controls defining these different geodynamic regimes we conducted a 2D numerical study based on finite-differences and marker-in-cell techniques. In our experiments we systematically varied several major parameters responsible for the degree of rheological coupling between plates during collision such as convergence rate, crustal rheology and effective velocity of upward propagation of aqueous fluids and melts in the mantle wedge. Low convergence rates and fluids/ melts propagation velocities favor continuous coupling and convergence between the plates. Coupled collision zones are characterized by continuous accretion of the weak upper continental crust resulting in the development of a thick and broad crustal wedge, by hot temperature in the inner parts of the orogen due to radiogenic heating of the thickened crust, by compressive orogenic stresses and appearance of a double seismogenic (brittle) layer involving upper crust and sub-Moho mantle. In contrast high convergence rates and fluid/melt percolation velocities produce efficient weakening of the mantle wedge and of the subduction channel triggering complete decoupling of two plates, mantle wedging into the crustal wedge and retreating style of collision. The evolution of fully decoupled collision zones are characterized by the disruption of the accretionary wedge, formation of an extensional basin in the inner part of the orogen and delamination of the weak portion of the continental crust that is first thrusted toward the foreland and, subsequently, dissected by extensional tectonics. Transition from coupled to decoupled regime occurs always at the early stages of continental collision indicating that insertion of rheologically weak crustal material in the subduction channel is critical for the subsequent evolution of the collision zone. We found good correlations of our numerical results with some of the major collisional orogens. In particular, the decoupled retreating collision regime reproduces what is observed in the Northern Apennines.

Coupled and decoupled regimes of continental collision: Numerical modeling

MINELLI, Giorgio;
2009

Abstract

Useful geodynamic distinction of continental collision zones can be based on the degree of rheological coupling of colliding plates. Coupled active collision zones (which can be either retreating or advancing) are characterized by a thick crustal wedge and compressive stresses (i.e. Himalaya and Western Alps), while decoupled end-members (which are always retreating) are defined by a thin crustal wedge and bi-modal distribution of stresses (i.e., compressional in the foreland and extensional in the inner part of the orogen, Northern Apennines). In order to understand physical controls defining these different geodynamic regimes we conducted a 2D numerical study based on finite-differences and marker-in-cell techniques. In our experiments we systematically varied several major parameters responsible for the degree of rheological coupling between plates during collision such as convergence rate, crustal rheology and effective velocity of upward propagation of aqueous fluids and melts in the mantle wedge. Low convergence rates and fluids/ melts propagation velocities favor continuous coupling and convergence between the plates. Coupled collision zones are characterized by continuous accretion of the weak upper continental crust resulting in the development of a thick and broad crustal wedge, by hot temperature in the inner parts of the orogen due to radiogenic heating of the thickened crust, by compressive orogenic stresses and appearance of a double seismogenic (brittle) layer involving upper crust and sub-Moho mantle. In contrast high convergence rates and fluid/melt percolation velocities produce efficient weakening of the mantle wedge and of the subduction channel triggering complete decoupling of two plates, mantle wedging into the crustal wedge and retreating style of collision. The evolution of fully decoupled collision zones are characterized by the disruption of the accretionary wedge, formation of an extensional basin in the inner part of the orogen and delamination of the weak portion of the continental crust that is first thrusted toward the foreland and, subsequently, dissected by extensional tectonics. Transition from coupled to decoupled regime occurs always at the early stages of continental collision indicating that insertion of rheologically weak crustal material in the subduction channel is critical for the subsequent evolution of the collision zone. We found good correlations of our numerical results with some of the major collisional orogens. In particular, the decoupled retreating collision regime reproduces what is observed in the Northern Apennines.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11391/31572
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