Influence of magma-poor versus magma-rich passive margins on subduction initiation

A. Auzemery, P. Yamato, T. Duretz, E. Willingshofer, L. Matenco, K. Porkoláb

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


We present a new numerical modelling study of subduction initiation at (hyper-extended) magma-poor and magma-rich continental passive margins. In particular, we test how the structure and rheological stratification of these two end-member types control the formation and thermo-mechanical evolution of subduction zones. The serpentinization of mantle lithosphere in a magma-poor continental rifted margin leads to rheological decoupling at the base of the continental crust, which induces shear localization during subsequent shortening. Under these conditions, a shear zone propagates into the mantle lithosphere and leads to subduction initiation at the transition between ocean and passive margin. In contrast, a magma-rich rifted continental margin is rheologically coupled, which creates a buttressing effect and transfer of deformation into the oceanic domain during shortening, where the subduction zone initiates. These results are quantitatively compared and in agreement with the geological record of subduction initiation in the Alps and Dinarides – Hellenides, where the relics of end-member types of continental rifted margins of the same Adriatic micro-continent bordering the Alpine Tethys and Neotethys oceans, respectively, are observed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)172-186
Number of pages15
JournalGondwana Research
Early online dateMar 2022
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2022


  • Alps
  • Hellenides/Dinarides
  • Magma-rich and magma-poor passive margins
  • Passive margins rheological coupling
  • Subduction initiation


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