Numerical modelling of tectonic plates subduction using X-FEM

Sergio Zlotnik, Pedro Díez*, Manel Fernández, Jaume Vergés

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


The numerical modelling of plate subduction requires solving a coupled thermo-mechanical highly-nonlinear transient problem. The mechanical description of the phenomenon results in a multiphase quasi-static Stokes flow, where the inertia terms are neglected. The transient thermal problem is dominated by the advection term. Here, the representation and evolution of the different phases are described using level sets. The phase tracking is carried out transporting the level set along with the material, using a pure advective model. The gradient discontinuities induced by the viscosity jump across the interface are resolved numerically by enriching the solution using a partition of unity method in a eXtended Finite Element Method (X-FEM) context. These numerical tools are used to simulate plate subduction with different parameters and to derive useful correlations between relevant geophysical factors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4283-4293
Number of pages11
JournalComputer Methods in Applied Mechanics and Engineering
Issue number41-44
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • EXtended Finite Element Method (X-FEM)
  • Numerical modelling
  • Subduction
  • Tectonic plates


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