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Why cold slabs stagnate in the transition zone

Scott D. King, Daniel J. Frost and David C. Rubie
Why cold slabs stagnate in the transition zone
Geology (Boulder) (February 2015) 43 (3): 231-234


Oceanic lithosphere sinks, stagnates, and is deflected sub-horizontally beneath western Pacific island arcs, requiring buoyancy in the slab that is inconsistent with a thermal origin. The transformation of pyroxene to majoritic garnet occurs by extremely slow diffusion, and pyroxene is therefore unlikely to transform at equilibrium pressures and temperatures in the cold interior of slabs. We present high-resolution numerical simulations showing that when slow diffusion inhibits the dissolution of pyroxene into garnet, the slab becomes buoyant relative to the ambient mantle and stagnates, whereas when the phase transformations occur in equilibrium, there is no effect on the slab. We test the model by comparing slab temperature and geometry and find that sub-horizontal slabs are more likely colder than average, consistent with our numerical simulations.

ISSN: 0091-7613
EISSN: 1943-2682
Serial Title: Geology (Boulder)
Serial Volume: 43
Serial Issue: 3
Title: Why cold slabs stagnate in the transition zone
Affiliation: Virginia Tech, Department of Geosciences, Blacksburg, VA, United States
Pages: 231-234
Published: 20150205
Text Language: English
Publisher: Geological Society of America (GSA), Boulder, CO, United States
References: 39
Accession Number: 2015-017351
Categories: Solid-earth geophysics
Document Type: Serial
Bibliographic Level: Analytic
Annotation: GSA Data Repository item 2015085
Illustration Description: illus. incl. sketch map
Secondary Affiliation: Universitaet Bayreuth, DEU, Germany
Country of Publication: United States
Secondary Affiliation: GeoRef, Copyright 2017, American Geosciences Institute. Reference includes data from GeoScienceWorld, Alexandria, VA, United States. Reference includes data supplied by the Geological Society of America, Boulder, CO, United States
Update Code: 201509
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