The study of slab-slab interactions has come to the front of geodynamics researches to explain geological and geophysical observations from tectonically complex areas. Here we aim to better understand the geodynamics of the Central Mediterranean, where the Adria plate subducts on its two opposite sides. Additionally, the slab below the Central South Apennines has been progressively breaking off during the last 3 Myr. The role of a slab window in a single slab or in an outward dipping double-sided subduction system is addressed by analog models at the scale of the upper mantle, realized using glucose syrup and silicone putty, to model the interaction between the Earth's mantle and the lithosphere. Our results show that the presence of a slab window modifies the pattern of mantle circulation, as well as the trench geometry and kinematics. In particular, the opening of the slab window induces the formation of two arcs flanking the window, while the mantle flows through it and turns toward the arcs, creating a small-scale toroidal flow. The effect of a slab window is more pronounced on double subduction systems, as the outflow through the window is amplified, while internal deformation is induced in the plate by the opposite slab pull force. These experimental results suggest that the origin of the Apenninic and the Calabrian arcs is the result of the formation of a slab window, providing a new interpretation of the surface deformation and the SKS shear wave splitting pattern of the Adria microplate.Plain Language Summary The Adria microplate in the Central Mediterranean is an important part of the tectonic puzzle between the converging Africa and Eurasia plates. The heavy lithosphere sinks into the underlying mantle on two sides of the Adria plate, under the Apennines in the west and under the Dinarides in the east. During the most recent few millions of years, the lithosphere started to detach from the surface in the Central South Apennines while sinking into the mantle. This opened a slab window, an additional escape route for the mantle, which is squeezed by the two subducting lithospheres. We scaled down and simplified this setting in order to model and investigate the role of the dual subduction and the opening slab window in the evolution of the Central Mediterranean by means of analog models. Our results show that the two opposite subduction zones have a regional tectonics effect via the complex subduction-induced mantle circulation. Furthermore, the detaching lithosphere modifies the geometry of the subduction zone, which results in a double-arc geometry resembling the Northern Apennines and Calabria.
Király, Á., Faccenna, C., Funiciello, F. (2018). Subduction Zones Interaction Around the Adria Microplate and the Origin of the Apenninic Arc. TECTONICS, 37(10), 3941-3953 [10.1029/2018TC005211].