Introducing tectonically and thermo-mechanically realistic lithosphere in the models of plume head -lithosphere interactions (PLI) including intra-continental plate boundaries.
Plume-Lithosphere Interactions (PLI) in continets have complex topographic and magmatic signatures and are often identified near boundaries between younger plates (e.g., orogenic) and older stable plates (e.g., cratons), which represent important geometrical, thermal and rheological barriers that interact with the emplacement of the plume head (e.g., Archean West Africa, East Africa, Pannonian - Carpathian system). The observable PLI signatures are conditioned by plume dynamics but also by complex rheology and structure of continental lithosphere. We address this problem by considering a new free-surface thermo-mechanical numerical model of PLI with two stratified elasto-viscous-plastic (EVP) continental plates of contrasting age, thickness and structure. The results show that: (1) surface deformation is poly-harmonic and contains smaller wavelengths (50-500 km) than that associated with the plume head (>1000 km). (2) below intra-plate boundaries, plume head flattening is asymmetric, it is blocked from one side by the cold vertical boundary of the older plate, which leads to mechanical decoupling of crust from mantle lithosphere, and to localized faulting at the cratonic margin; (2) the return flow from the plume head results in sub-vertical down-thrusting (delamination) of the lithosphere at the margin, producing sharp vertical cold boundary down to the 400 km depth; (3) plume head flattening and migration towards the younger plate results in concurrent surface extension above the centre of the plume and in compression (pushing), down-thrusting and magmatic events at the cratonic margin (down-thrusting is also produced at the opposite border of the younger plate); these processes may result in continental growth at the "craton side"; (4) topographic signatures of PLI show basin-scale uplifts and subsidences preferentially located at cratonic margins. Negative Rayleigh-Taylor instabilities in the lithosphere above the plume head provide a mechanism for crustal delamination. In case of several cratonic blocks, the combined effect of subsidence and lithospheric thinning at cratons edges, while plume head material is being stocked in between the cratons, favours major magmatic events at cratonic margins. Numerous field evidence (West Africa, Western Australia) underline the trapping effect of cratonic margins for formation of (e.g.) orogenic gold deposits, which require particular extreme P-T conditions. Location of gemstones deposits is also associated with cratonic margins, as demonstrated by the Tanzanian Ruby belt. Their formation depend on particularly fast isothermal deepening processes, which can be reproduced by slab-like instabilities induced by plume head-cratonic margin interaction. On the other hand, absence of magmatic events should not be interpreted as evidence for the absence of plume: at surface, these events may not necessary have unambiguous deep geochemical signatures, as the hot source plume material stalls below Moho and forms a long-lasting (10 to 100 Myr) sub-Moho reservoir. This should induce strong crustal melting that may overprint deeper signatures since crustal melts are generated at much lower temperatures than mantle, and produce light low-viscous rapidly ascending magmas. Drip-like down- sagging of the lithospheric mantle and metamorphic lower crustal material inside the plume head may contaminate the latter and also alter the geochemical signature of related magmas.
AGU Fall Meeting Abstracts
- Pub Date:
- December 2007
- 0798 Modeling;
- 1213 Earth's interior: dynamics (1507;
- 1236 Rheology of the lithosphere and mantle (7218;
- 8120 Dynamics of lithosphere and mantle: general (1213);
- 8121 Dynamics: convection currents;
- and mantle plumes