We propose that subducting slabs may cause lithospheric removal by directing mantle flow along the craton margin. This process could carve and shape the cratons, leading to conditions that impact the overall (in)stability of the lithosphere. We use three-dimensional geodynamic models to investigate how subduction-driven directed flow interacts with cratonic lithosphere of differing shape, concluding that the margin shape controls both channelization of flow around the craton as well as the potential for destruction. While the simulations show that all craton shapes aid in channelization, the cratons with straight vertical margins are the most resistant to deformation, and the cratons with gradually thickening margins are less resistant to deformation. The dependence on shape could contribute to the progressive removal of cratonic lithosphere along its margin in a runaway process until a more stable vertical margin shape evolves.

This content is PDF only. Please click on the PDF icon to access.
You do not currently have access to this article.