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Publication details for Prof Jeroen van Hunen

Magni, V., Faccenna, C., van Hunen, J. & Funiciello, F. (2014). How collision triggers backarc extension: Insight into Mediterranean style of extension from 3-D numerical models. Geology 42(6): 511-514.

Author(s) from Durham


The formation and evolution of a backarc basin are linked to the dynamics of the subduction system. The opening of the central Mediterranean basins is a well-documented example of backarc extension characterized by short-lived episodes of spreading. The underlying reasons for this episodicity are obscured by the complexity of this subduction system, in which multiple continental blocks enter the subduction zone. We present results from three-dimensional numerical models of laterally varying subduction to explain the mechanism of backarc basin opening and the episodic style of spreading. Our results show that efficient backarc extension can be obtained with an along-trench variation in slab buoyancy that produces localized deformation within the overriding plate. We observe peaks in the trench retreating velocity corresponding first to the opening of the backarc basin, and later to the formation of slab windows. We suggest that the observed episodic trench retreat behavior in the central Mediterranean is caused by the formation of slab windows.