Along convergent plate boundaries, the negative buoyancy of the lithosphere pulls the slab into subduction. Bending and offscraping of the downgoing plate are processes occurring at subduction zones and acting against plate motions. These localised dissipative processes cause extensional deformation in the bulge-foredeep region and thrusting and folding in the thrust wedge respectively. Within this framework, widespread early subduction-related extensional structures affecting pre-orogenic rocks of the downgoing plate of fossil subduction systems, are commonly interpreted as induced by extension occurring in the forebulge-foredeep zone. Slab pull is to date, rarely considered as a potential causative process when interpreting basin-scale pre-shortening extensional structures. The problem of distinguishing slab-pull and foreland flexuring induced extensional structures relates to the fact that for most belts, slab pull and forebulge-foredeep flexuring are expected to produce extension roughly in the same direction (i.e. parallel to the foredeep-belt system) and, when syn-kinematic strata are not available, discriminating between these two processes is arduous. In this work we present a field investigation of basin-scale extensional faults from the downgoing plate of the Oman Mts. fossil subduction system. Syn-kinematic strata indicate that normal fault development largely predated extension in the bulge-foredeep region. Herein, we argue that such faulting occurred during the transition from induced to self-sustained subduction, when the negative buoyancy of the slab started to exceed the resisting forces and the downgoing plate began to be pulled towards the trench.
- Early subduction-related deformation
- Extensional faults
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Earth-Surface Processes