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Syn-convergence flow inside and at the margin of orogenic plateaus: Lithospheric-scale experimental approach

Abstract : This study investigates three-dimensional flow modes of orogenic plateaus by means of physical modeling. Experiments consist of shortening two contiguous lithospheres of contrasting strength, one being a weak plateau-type lithosphere and the other a strong craton-type lithosphere. The lateral boundaries are either totally confined or allow escape toward a lateral foreland on one side. Two synconvergence flow regimes are distinguished, which are governed by the balance between the gravity potential and the strength of the plateau crust and the resistance of its lateral foreland. The first regime implies transversal (orogen-normal) injection of plateau lower crust into the collision zone as a result of confinement of the plateau by an increasingly stiffer lateral boundary. As a precursor mechanism to channel flow, transversal injection responds to downward thickening of the plateau crust that is forcedly extruded into the orogenic wedge. The second regime is that of collapse-driven lateral escape of the plateau. This regime is established after a threshold is attained in the interplate coupling in the collision zone, which allows the gravity potential of the plateau to overcome the resistance of its lateral boundary. Under the collapse-driven escape regime (orogen parallel), such as that governing Tibet during the last 13 Ma, most of the convergence in the plateau and the top and rear of the collisional wedge is transformed into lateral flow and extension.
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Submitted on : Monday, November 16, 2015 - 12:47:41 PM
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Flora Bajolet, Dominique Chardon, Joseph Martinod, Denis Gapais, Jean-Jacques Kermarrec. Syn-convergence flow inside and at the margin of orogenic plateaus: Lithospheric-scale experimental approach. Journal of Geophysical Research, American Geophysical Union, 2015, 120 (9), pp.6634-6657. ⟨10.1002/2015JB012110⟩. ⟨hal-01229107⟩

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