Subduction-induced mantle circulation plays an important role in the dynamics of convergent margins. Different components of the flow, i.e. toroidal and poloidal, provide relevant driving forces for back-arc basin formation, overriding plate deformation, curvature of subduction zones and volcanic activity. Here, we investigate on the emergence and controls on the toroidal component of the subduction–induced mantle flow by means of numerical modeling. To characterize the toroidal cell's three-dimensional flow, size and length-scales and its disposing factors, we test separately a series of lithospheric and mantle parameters, such as the density difference and viscosity ratio between the slab and the mantle, the width of the slab, as opposed to the size, the stratification and the rheology of the mantle. Out of the tested parameters, the numerical results show that the strength of the flow depends on the mantle viscosity and the magnitude of the slab pull force, that is slab-mantle density difference and the mantle thickness, however the characteristic length, axis and the shape of the toroidal cell are almost independent of the slab's properties and mainly depend on the thickness of the convecting mantle.
Ágnes, K., Capitanio, F.A., Funiciello, F., Faccenna, C. (2017). Subduction induced mantle flow: length-scales and orientation of the toroidal cell. EARTH AND PLANETARY SCIENCE LETTERS, 497, 284-297 [10.1016/j.epsl.2017.09.017].