Science & Engineering Faculty

The contrasting geologic record of inferred “hot” intraoceanic and “cold” continental margin subduction initiation

Publication Date Jun 21, 2022


ABSTRACT Two contrasting field relationships may reflect different tectonic settings of subduction initiation preserved in orogenic belts. “Hot” subduction initiation assemblages include a large ophiolite unit (up to kms thick, extending tens to hundreds of km along strike) with supra subduction zone (SSZ) geochemical affinity that structurally overlies a thin (<500 m thick) sheet of high-pressure (HP), high-temperature (HT), primarily metamafic rocks called a metamorphic sole. The ophiolite generally lacks burial metamorphism and includes variably serpentinized peridotite at its base. The sole structurally overlies subduction complex rocks made up of oceanic materials (igneous part of oceanic crust and overlying pelagic sedimentary rocks, and clastic sedimentary rocks of trench fill affinity) and/or passive margin assemblages; some of the subduction complex may be metamorphosed under HP-low temperature (LT) conditions (such as blueschist facies). The field relationships suggest initiation of subduction within young (<15 My) and “hot” oceanic lithosphere and that the sole represents the first slice(s) of material transferred from the subducting to upper plate. Examples include the Neotethyan and northern Appalachian ophiolites and units beneath them, and the Coast Range ophiolite and subjacent Franciscan subduction complex of California. “Cold” subduction initiation assemblages lack SSZ ophiolite and island arc components and a metamorphic sole. Instead, the upper plate above the s...


Subduction Complex Subduction Initiation Coast Range Ophiolite Alpine Orogenic Belt Supra Subduction Zone Continental Margin Blueschist Facies Geochemical Affinity Oceanic Lithosphere Oceanic Crust

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