Abstract

Oceanic trenches associated with island arcs generally have small radii of curvature, much less than 45 degrees. A geometric model of subduction is presented that predicts three types of arcs: one in which the subducted plate is subject to lateral extension, a second in which the subducted plate is laterally shortened, and a third in which the subducted plate is not laterally deformed. Parameters of the model are the radius of curvature of the island arc and the dip of the subducted plate. Comparison of island arcs with the model suggests that, at intermediate and deep levels of subduction, most arcs are of the type in which the subducted plate is laterally extended.

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