Abnormal seismological and magmatic processes controlled by the tearing South American flat slabs

Jiashun Hu, Lijun Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The influence of flat slab subduction on the formation of intra-slab earthquakes, volcanic activities and mantle seismic velocity anomalies remains unclear. We attempt to better understand these processes by simulating the two flat slabs in Peru and Chile using data-orientated geodynamic models. Our results successfully reproduce the observed flat slabs as mainly due to two subducting aseismic ridges. In contrast to the traditional view of flat-slab subduction, we find that these slabs are internally torn, as is due to the 3D nature of the subducting buoyancy features. This broken slab configuration, confirmed by regional tomography, naturally explains the abnormal distribution of and stress regimes associated with the intermediate-depth earthquakes. We further show that the slab tearing process could also better explain the formation of adakitic and ore-forming magmatism, the evolution of the magmatic arc, and the enigmatic mantle seismic structures beneath these regions. We propose that slab tearing may represent a common result of buoyancy feature subduction and that the resulting mantle processes could affect the long-term geodynamic evolution of continents.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)40-51
Number of pages12
JournalEarth and Planetary Science Letters
StatePublished - Sep 15 2016


  • Central Chile flat slab
  • Peruvian flat slab
  • adakite
  • aseismic ridge
  • seismic tomography
  • slab tear

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science


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