Multiple episodes of continental subduction during India/Asia convergence: Insight from seismic tomography and tectonic reconstruction
High wavespeed tomographic anomalies shallower than 1100 km beneath the India/Asia collision zone are interpreted as continental slabs subducted during collision. Combining anomaly positions with paleogeographic reconstructions of India, we constrain the spatio-temporal evolution of multiple episodes of continental subduction likely related to these anomalies. This study highlights the different evolution at lithospheric scales of the western and eastern parts of the collision zone. The evolution of the western part is characterized by two episodes of steep subduction of the northern margin of India. The first episode, involving an area with a lateral extent as large as 1500 km, started at about 40-30 and ended by a slab break-off process at ̃ 15 Ma, The second episode consists on subduction beneath the Hindu Kush mountains since ̃ 8 Ma. To the east of the collision zone, no anomaly related to steep subduction along the northern edge of India is found. We interpret two tomographic anomalies beneath the eastern border of the Indian plate, beneath Burma and beneath the Andaman Sea, as the result of two successive episodes of southeastward extrusion followed by subduction. We suggest that both extruded portions were initially located along the northern margin of India, and that they slid around the eastern syntaxis, then southward along the eastern boundary of Indian plate. Both portions subducted along the eastern border of India, south of the eastern syntaxis. We provide a rough estimate of the amount of Indian lithosphere consumed during these subduction and extrusion episodes. By comparing this amount with the total amount of Indian lithosphere at the onset of collision, we conclude that these processes accommodated most of the India/Asia convergence during collision.