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The effect of temperature-dependent material properties on simple thermal models of subduction zones

van Zelst, Iris and Thieulot, Cedric and Craig, Timothy J. (2023) The effect of temperature-dependent material properties on simple thermal models of subduction zones. Solid Earth, 14 (7), pp. 683-707. Copernicus. doi: 10.5194/se-14-683-2023. ISSN 1869-9510.

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Official URL: https://se.copernicus.org/articles/14/683/2023/


To a large extent, the thermal structure of a subduction zone determines where seismicity occurs through controls on the transition from brittle to ductile deformation and the depth of dehydration reactions. Thermal models of subduction zones can help understand the distribution of seismicity by accurately modelling the thermal structure of the subduction zone. Here, we assess a common simplification in thermal models of subduction zones, i.e. constant values for the thermal parameters. We use temperature-dependent parameterisations, constrained by lab data, for the thermal conductivity, heat capacity, and density to systematically test their effect on the resulting thermal structure of the slab. To isolate this effect, we use the well-defined, thoroughly studied, and highly simplified model setup of the subduction community benchmark by van Keken et al. (2008) in a 2D finite-element code. To ensure a self-consistent and realistic initial temperature profile for the slab, we implement a 1D plate model for cooling of the oceanic lithosphere with an age of 50 Myr instead of the previously used half-space model. Our results show that using temperature-dependent thermal parameters in thermal models of subduction zones affects the thermal structure of the slab with changes on the order of tens of degrees and hence tens of kilometres. More specifically, using temperature-dependent thermal parameters results in a slightly cooler slab with e.g. the 600 ∘C isotherm reaching almost 30 km deeper. From this, we infer that these models would predict a larger estimated seismogenic zone and a larger depth at which dehydration reactions responsible for intermediate-depth seismicity occur. We therefore recommend that thermo(-mechanical) models of subduction zones take temperature-dependent thermal parameters into account, especially when inferences of seismicity are made.

Item URL in elib:https://elib.dlr.de/196854/
Document Type:Article
Title:The effect of temperature-dependent material properties on simple thermal models of subduction zones
AuthorsInstitution or Email of AuthorsAuthor's ORCID iDORCID Put Code
van Zelst, IrisUNSPECIFIEDhttps://orcid.org/0000-0003-4698-9910UNSPECIFIED
Thieulot, CedricDepartment of Earth Sciences, Utrecht University, Utrecht, the NetherlandsUNSPECIFIEDUNSPECIFIED
Craig, Timothy J.Institute for Geophysics and Tectonics, School of Earth and Environment, University of Leeds, Leeds, LS2 9JT, United KingdomUNSPECIFIEDUNSPECIFIED
Date:11 July 2023
Journal or Publication Title:Solid Earth
Refereed publication:Yes
Open Access:Yes
Gold Open Access:Yes
In ISI Web of Science:Yes
Page Range:pp. 683-707
Keywords:subduction, temperature-dependent parameters, numerical modelling
HGF - Research field:Aeronautics, Space and Transport
HGF - Program:Space
HGF - Program Themes:Robotics
DLR - Research area:Raumfahrt
DLR - Program:R RO - Robotics
DLR - Research theme (Project):R - Planetary Exploration, R - Planetary Evolution and Life
Location: Berlin-Adlershof
Institutes and Institutions:Institute of Planetary Research > Planetary Physics
Deposited By: van Zelst, Iris
Deposited On:31 Aug 2023 14:28
Last Modified:31 Aug 2023 14:28

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