Studying subduction is essential to understanding tectonic processes, deep Earth structure, and the evolution of the planet. More fully understanding the structure and dynamics of lithosphere subducting along highly arcuate plate boundaries will aid in constraining geologically recorded tectonic events, global plate motions, plate boundary deformation, and the role of subducted oceanic lithosphere in mantle convection. The research aim of the project is to study four highly arcuate subduction zones: the Antilles, Banda, Gibraltar/Betic-Rif, and Mariana arcs (see Figure) in order to test hypotheses on the origin and evolution of curved subduction zones. Each of these arcs varies in tectonic history and setting, but all have available broadband seismic data and two are accessible for field studies. Imaging and modeling of these arcs will provide a way to test hypotheses that curved subduction zones have evolved into their current configuration due to interactions with buoyant features, such as oceanic plateaus or continental lithosphere, resulting in their curved morphology as a result of rollback and fragmentation. Integration of the results is likely to provide answers to a range of geodynamic questions involving how lithospheric and mantle processes, as well as structure, control tectonics and surface geology in complex convergent plate boundary zones.
For more information about this potential research topic or activity, or to discuss any related research area, please A/Prof Meghan Miller.