Evidence for a serpentinized plate interface favouring continental subduction

Liang Zhao*, Marco G. Malusà, Huaiyu Yuan, Anne Paul, Stéphane Guillot, Yang Lu, Laurent Stehly, Stefano Solarino, Elena Eva, Gang Lu, Thomas Bodin, CIFALPS Group, AlpArray Working Group

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)
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The dynamics of continental subduction is largely controlled by the rheological properties of rocks involved along the subduction channel. Serpentinites have low viscosity at geological strain rates. However, compelling geophysical evidence of a serpentinite channel during continental subduction is still lacking. Here we show that anomalously low shear-wave seismic velocities are found beneath the Western Alps, along the plate interface between the European slab and the overlying Adriatic mantle. We propose that these seismic velocities indicate the stacked remnants of a weak fossilised serpentinite channel, which includes both slivers of abyssal serpentinite formed at the ocean floor and mantle-wedge serpentinite formed by fluid release from the subducting slab. Our results suggest that this serpentinized plate interface may have favoured the subduction of continental crust into the upper mantle and the formation/exhumation of ultra-high pressure metamorphic rocks, providing new constraints to develop the conceptual and quantitative understanding of continental-subduction dynamics.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2171
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalNature Communications
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2020

Bibliographical note

An author correction exists for this article and can be found in Nature Communications, 11,3838, doi: 10.1038/s41467-020-17767-4

Copyright the Author(s) 2020. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


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