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Authors: Doglioni, C.* 
Harabaglia, P.* 
Merlini, S.* 
Mongelli, F.* 
Peccerillo, A.* 
Piromallo, C.* 
Title: Orogens and slabs vs. their direction of subduction
Issue Date: 1999
Series/Report no.: /45 (1999)
Keywords: tectonics
subduction zones
Mediterranean geodynamics
Subject Classification04. Solid Earth::04.07. Tectonophysics::04.07.02. Geodynamics 
Abstract: Subduction zones appear primarily controlled by the polarity of their direction, i.e., W-directed or E- to NNE-directed, probably due to the westward drift of the lithosphere relative to the asthenosphere. The decollement planes behave differently in the two end-members. In the W-directed subduction zone, the decollement of the plate to the east is warped and subducted, whereas in the E- to NNE-directed, it is ramping upward at the surface. There are W-directed subduction zones that work also in absence of active convergence like the Carpathians or the Apennines. W-directed subduction zones have shorter life 30–40 Ma.than E- or NE-directed subduction zones even longer than 100 Ma.. The different decollements in the two end-members of subduction should control different PTt paths and, therefore, generate variable metamorphic assemblages in the associated accretionary wedges and orogens. These asymmetries also determine different topographic and structural evolutions that are marked by low topography and a fast ‘eastward’ migrating structural wave along W-directed subduction zones, whereas the topography and the structure are rapidly growing upward and expanding laterally along the opposite subduction zones. The magmatic pair calc-alkaline and alkaline–tholeiitic volcanic products of the island arc and the back-arc basin characterise the W-directed subduction zones. Magmatic rocks associated with E- or NE-directed subduction zones have higher abundances of incompatible elements, and mainly consist of calc-alkaline– shoshonitic suites, with large volumes of batholithic intrusions and porphyry copper ore deposits. The subduction zones surrounding the Adriatic plate in the central Mediterranean confirm the differences among subduction zones as primarily controlled by the geographic polarity of the main direction of the slab. The western margin of the Adriatic plate contemporaneously overridden and underthrust Europe toward the ‘west’ to generate, respectively, the Alps and the Apennines, while the eastern margin subducted under the Dinarides–Hellenides. These belts confirm the characters of the end-members of subduction zones as a function of their geographic polarity similarly to the Pacific subduction zones.
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