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Solid Earth An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Discussion papers
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Method article 24 Jan 2019

Method article | 24 Jan 2019

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Solid Earth (SE).

Improving subduction interface implementation in dynamic numerical models

Dan Sandiford1,2 and Louis Moresi1 Dan Sandiford and Louis Moresi
  • 1School of Earth Sciences, University of Melbourne, VIC, 3010, Australia
  • 2Institute of Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania, TAS, 7004, Australia

Abstract. This study focuses on methodological issues related to dynamic subduction zone modelling. Numerical models often employ an entrained weak layer (WL approach) to facilitate decoupling between the subducting and overriding plates. In such a setup, the kinematics of the flow lead to width variations in the subduction interface. When a uniform-width interface is prescribed, a transient evolution of the interface thickness occurs, during which the volmetric flux along the interface profile establishes equilibrium. Width variations can exceed 4× during this stage, which may impact the effective strength of the interface, both through physical effects if the rheology is linear, and numerical effects if the fault becomes poorly resolved. This transient process induces strong sensitivity to model resolution, and may present a significant challenge to reproducibility. Developing more robust ways to model the subduction interface will enable fully dynamic models to address sensitive subduction-zone processes, such as metamorphism near the slab top. In this study we discuss a simple strategy aimed at improving the standard WL approach. By prescribing a variable thickness weak layer at the outset of the model, and by controlling the limits of the layer thickness during the model evolution, we find improved stability and resolution convergence of the models.

Dan Sandiford and Louis Moresi
Interactive discussion
Status: final response (author comments only)
Status: final response (author comments only)
AC: Author comment | RC: Referee comment | SC: Short comment | EC: Editor comment
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Dan Sandiford and Louis Moresi
Dan Sandiford and Louis Moresi
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