Heterogeneous slab thermal dehydration driving warm subduction zone earthquakes

Ye Zhu, Yingfeng Ji, Lijun Liu, Weiling Zhu, Rui Qu, Chaodi Xie, Haris Faheem, Shoichi Yoshioka, Lin Ding

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Changing thermal regime is one of the key mechanisms driving seismogenic behaviors at cold megathrusts, but it is difficult to interpret warm subduction zones such as Vanuatu for the temperatures are higher than that accommodates shallow brittle failures. We construct a 3-D thermomechanical model to clarify the thermal structure that controls tectonic seismicity in Vanuatu and predict a warm circumstance associated with abundant seismicity. Results reveal a heterogeneous slab ranging from 300 °C to over 900 °C from the Moho to subvolcanic depth. The subduction seismicity corresponds well to the plate interface where dynamic thermal dehydration is focused. The transformation from hydrated basalts to eclogites along the slab facilitates the occurrence of intense earthquakes and slips. Multistage mineralogical metamorphism affects the dynamic stability of megathrusts and favors the generation of active interplate large events. Therefore, slab thermal dehydration plays a greater role than slab temperature condition in influencing the subduction earthquake distribution in warm subduction systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number21157
JournalScientific reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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