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Mapping geologic features onto subducted slabs

Harmon, Nicholas; Rychert, Catherine; Collier, Jenny; Henstock, Tim; van Hunen, Jeroen; Wilkinson, Jamie J

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Nicholas Harmon

Catherine Rychert

Jenny Collier

Tim Henstock

Jamie J Wilkinson


Estimating the location of geologic and tectonic features on a subducting plate is important for interpreting their spatial relationships with other observables including seismicity, seismic velocity and attenuation anomalies, and the location of ore deposits and arc volcanism in the over-riding plate. Here we present two methods for estimating the location of predictable features such as seamounts, ridges and fracture zones on the slab. One uses kinematic reconstructions of plate motions, and the other uses multidimensional scaling to flatten the slab onto the surface of the Earth. We demonstrate the methods using synthetic examples and also using the test case of fracture zones entering the Lesser Antilles subduction zone. The two methods produce results that are in good agreement with each other in both the synthetic and real examples. In the Lesser Antilles, the subducted fracture zones trend northwards of the surface projections. The two methods begin to diverge in regions where the multidimensional scaling method has its greatest likely error. Wider application of these methods may help to establish spatial correlations globally.


Harmon, N., Rychert, C., Collier, J., Henstock, T., van Hunen, J., & Wilkinson, J. J. (2019). Mapping geologic features onto subducted slabs. Geophysical Journal International, 219(2), 725-733.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jul 4, 2019
Online Publication Date Jul 11, 2019
Publication Date Nov 30, 2019
Deposit Date Sep 2, 2019
Publicly Available Date Oct 31, 2019
Journal Geophysical Journal International
Print ISSN 0956-540X
Electronic ISSN 1365-246X
Publisher Oxford University Press
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 219
Issue 2
Pages 725-733


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Copyright Statement
© The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society.<br /> This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted reuse, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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