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    Solid earth sciences

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    An introductory review of the thermal structure of subduction zones: II—numerical approach and validation

    Cian R. Wilson, Peter E. van KekenCian R. Wilson, Peter E. van Keken

    Geodynamics, Plate tectonics, Finite element methods, Subduction zone metamorphism, Arc volcanism

    Steady-state thermal structure for the updated subduction zone benchmark. a) Temperature predicted by TF(TerraFERMA) for case 1(constant viscosity h=1); b) temperature difference between TF and Sepran using the penalty function (PF) method for case 1 at fm=1 where fm represents the smallest element sizes in the finite element grids near the coupling point; c) slab top temperature comparison for case 1; and d)–f) as a)–c) but now for case 2 (temperature and strain rate dependent viscosity). The star indicates the position or temperature conditions at the coupling point.

    The thermal structure of subduction zones is fundamental to our understanding of the physical and chemical processes that occur at active convergent plate margins. These include magma generation and related arc volcanism, shallow and deep seismicity, and metamorphic reactions that can release fluids. Computational models can predict the thermal structure to great numerical precision when models are fully described but this does not guarantee accuracy or applicability. In a trio of companion papers, the construction of thermal subduction zone models, their use in subduction zone studies, and their link to geophysical and geochemical observations are explored. In this part II, the finite element techniques that can be used to predict thermal structure are discussed in an introductory fashion along with their verification and validation.

    Steady-state thermal structure for the updated subduction zone benchmark. a) Temperature predicted by TF for case 1; b) temperature difference between TF and Sepran using the penalty function (PF) method for case 1 at fm=1 where fm represents the smallest element sizes in the finite element grids near the coupling point; c) slab top temperature comparison for case 1; and d)–f) as a)–c) but now for case 2. The star indicates the position or temperature conditions at the coupling point.