Stephan V. Sobolev

Stephan V. Sobolev
Helmholtz-Zentrum Potsdam - Deutsches GeoForschungsZentrum GFZ | GFZ · Division of Geodynamic Modelling

Professor
Principal Investigator of the ERC Synergy Grant Project MEET (Monitoring Earth Evolution through Time)

About

223
Publications
50,282
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Introduction
Stephan V. Sobolev is a group leader and PI of the ERC Synergy Grant at the Division of Geodynamic Modelling at Helmholtz Centre Potsdam - GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences. He is also Professor of Geodynamics at the Institute of Geosciences, University of Potsdam. Stephan does research in Geophysics and Computational Geodynamics.
Additional affiliations
January 2007 - September 2015
Helmholtz-Zentrum Potsdam - Deutsches GeoForschungsZentrum GFZ
Position
  • Head of Department

Publications

Publications (223)
Article
Full-text available
Subduction is substantially multi-scale process where the stresses are built by long-term tectonic motions, modified by sudden jerky deformations during earthquakes, and then restored by following multiple relaxation processes. Here, we develop a cross-scale thermomechanical model aimed to simulate the subduction process from 1 minute to million ye...
Article
Full-text available
The classical Wilson Cycle concept, describing repeated opening and closing of ocean basins, hypothesizes spontaneous conversion of passive continental margins into subduction zones. This process, however, is impeded by the high strength of passive margins, and it has never occurred in Cenozoic times. Here, using thermomechanical models, we show th...
Article
Full-text available
Lithospheric plates move over the low viscosity asthenosphere balancing several forces, which generate plate motions. We use a global 3D lithosphere-asthenosphere model (SLIM3D) with visco-elasto-plastic rheology coupled to a spectral model of mantle flow at a 300 km depth to quantify the influence of intra-plate friction and asthenospheric viscosi...
Article
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Plate tectonics is among the most important geological processes on Earth, but its emergence and evolution remain unclear. Here we extrapolate models of present-day plate tectonics to the past and propose that since about three billion years ago the rise of continents and the accumulation of sediments at continental edges and in trenches has provid...
Article
Full-text available
Giant earthquakes with magnitudes above 8.5 occur only in subduction zones. Despite the developments made in observing large subduction zone earthquakes with geophysical instruments, the factors controlling the maximum size of these earthquakes are still poorly understood. Previous studies have suggested the importance of slab shape, roughness of t...
Preprint
Full-text available
The formation of the Central Andes dates back to ~ 50 Ma, but its most pronounced phase, including the growth of the Altiplano-Puna Plateau and pulsatile tectonic shortening phases, occurred within the last 25 Ma. The reason for this evolution remains unexplained. Using geodynamic numerical modeling we infer that the primary cause of the pulses of...
Preprint
Full-text available
The formation of the Central Andes dates back to ~50 Ma, but its most pronounced phase, including the growth of the Altiplano-Puna Plateau and pulsatile tectonic shortening phases, occurred within the last 25 Ma. The reason for this evolution remains unexplained. Using geodynamic numerical modeling we infer that the primary cause of the pulses of t...
Article
Full-text available
Controls on the deformation pattern (shortening mode and tectonic style) of orogenic forelands during lithospheric shortening remain poorly understood. Here, we use high‐resolution 2D thermomechanical models to demonstrate that orogenic crustal thickness and foreland lithospheric thickness significantly control the shortening mode in the foreland....
Article
Full-text available
Subduction initiation induced by a hot and buoyant mantle plume head is unique among proposed subduction initiation mechanisms because it does not require pre-existing weak zones or other forces for lithospheric collapse. Since recognition of the first evidence of subduction nucleation induced by a mantle plume in the Late Cretaceous Caribbean real...
Article
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Initiation of subduction following the impingement of a hot buoyant mantle plume is one of the few scenarios that allow breaking the lithosphere and recycling a stagnant lid without requiring any preexisting weak zones. Here, we investigate factors controlling the number and shape of retreating subducting slabs formed by plume-lithosphere interacti...
Article
Full-text available
Impingement of a hot buoyant mantle plume head on the lithosphere is one of the few scenarios that can initiate a new subduction zone without requiring any pre-existing weak zones. This mechanism can start subduction and plate tectonics on a stagnant lid and can also operate during active plate tectonics where plume-lithosphere interactions is like...
Article
Full-text available
Deformation in the orogen-foreland system of the southern Central Andes between 33° and 36° S varies in style, locus, and amount of shortening. The controls that determine these spatially variable characteristics have largely remained unknown, yet both the subduction of the oceanic Nazca plate and the strength of the South American plate have been...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
The ERC Synergy project: Monitoring Earth Evolution Through Time (MEET) started in November 2020. Here we report results of study of melt inclusions and host high-Mg olivine phenocrysts of komatiites and related picrites from Phanerozoic localities: Gorgona, Colombia (0.09 Ga), Song Da, Vietnam (0.26 Ga), and Archean localities: Belingwe belt, Zimb...
Article
Full-text available
It has recently been demonstrated that the interaction of a mantle plume with sufficiently old oceanic lithosphere can initiate subduction. However, the existence of large lithospheric heterogeneities, such as a buoyant plateau, in proximity to a rising plume head may potentially hinder the formation of a new subduction zone. Here, we investigate t...
Article
We present a new three-dimensional density model of the Central Andes characterizing the structure and composition of the lithosphere together with a geodynamic simulation subjected to continental intraplate shortening. The principal aim of this study is to assess the link between heterogeneities in the lithosphere and different deformation pattern...
Article
Full-text available
Pre-existing weakness zones in the lithosphere such as transform faults/fracture zones and extinct mid-oceanic ridges have been suggested to facilitate subduction initiation in an intraoceanic environment. Here, we propose that the additional forcing coming from the mantle suction flow is required to trigger the conversion of a fracture zone/transf...
Data
The main manuscript shows the model input and results from our series of calculations with the lithosphere-asthenosphere code coupled to the mantle flow code to evaluate the influence of the mantle flow and lithosphere density anomalies on lithosphere stress and topography. Here we show additional figures of model input and results which did not go...
Article
Full-text available
The orientation and tectonic regime of the observed crustal/lithospheric stress field contribute to our knowledge of different deformation processes occurring within the Earth's crust and lithosphere. In this study, we analyze the influence of the thermal and density structure of the upper mantle on the lithospheric stress field and topography. We...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
The Central Andes along with their related basins constitute a heterogeneous and complex system. Its present state results from the interaction of the recent Andean orogeny with inherited structures of the lithosphere. Several studies have been conducted in the region, producing a variety of geological and geophysical data that shed light on the li...
Article
Full-text available
The orientation and tectonic regime of the observed crustal/lithospheric stress field contribute to our knowledge of different deformation processes occurring within the Earth's crust and lithosphere. In this study, we analyze the influence of the thermal and density structure of the upper mantle on the lithospheric stress field and topography. We...
Article
Here, we study the 3-D subduction initiation process induced by the interaction between a hot thermo-chemical mantle plume and oceanic lithosphere using thermo-mechanical viscoplastic finite difference marker-in-cell models. Our numerical modeling results show that self-sustaining subduction is induced by plume–lithosphere interaction when the plum...
Article
Full-text available
Scientific theories of how subduction and plate tectonics began on Earth—and what the tectonic structure of Earth was before this—remain enigmatic and contentious1. Understanding viable scenarios for the onset of subduction and plate tectonics2, 3 is hampered by the fact that subduction initiation processes must have been markedly different before...
Article
We study segregation of the subducted oceanic crust (OC) at the core mantle boundary and its ability to accumulate and form large thermochemical piles (such as the seismically observed LLSVPs). Our high-resolution numerical simulations of thermochemical mantle convection suggest that the longevity of LLSVPs for up to three billion years, and possib...
Article
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The Earth's biggest magmatic events are believed to originate from massive melting when hot mantle plumes rising from the lowermost mantle reach the base of the lithosphere. Classical models predict large plume heads that cause kilometre-scale surface uplift, and narrow (100 km radius) plume tails that remain in the mantle after the plume head spre...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Subduction initiation scenarios can be markedly different in case of globally active vs. globally absent plate tectonics. Most present-day subduction initiation mechanisms require acting plate forces and/or preexisting zones of lithospheric weakness, which are themselves the consequence of plate tectonics (Stern 2004). In contrast, spon-taneous plu...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Subduction initiation scenarios can be markedly different in case of globally active vs. globally absent plate tectonics. Most present-day subduction initiation mechanisms require acting plate forces and/or preexisting zones of lithospheric weakness, which are themselves the consequence of plate tectonics (Stern 2004). In contrast, spon-taneous plu...
Chapter
Full-text available
Even though a causal relationship between the emplacement of the Siberian large igneous province (LIP) and the end-Permian mass extinction remains unproven, the synchronicity of the two events, each the largest of its kind, makes it extremely likely that the magmatism was linked directly to the biological crisis. Recent dating has placed the erupti...
Article
Full-text available
When continents break apart, continental crust and lithosphere are thinned until break-up is achieved and an oceanic basin is formed. The most remarkable and least understood structures associated with this process are up to 200 km wide areas of hyper-extended continental crust, which are partitioned between conjugate margins with pronounced asymme...
Chapter
In this chapter we report on the deep structure of the Dead Sea Transform (DST) as derived from geophysical observations and numerical modelling, calibrated by geological and geodynamic evidence. We use seismics, seismology and gravity to study the crust and lithosphere of the Dead Sea Transform (DST) system. These observations are integrated with...
Data
This animated movie shows the evolution of the potential temperature (°C) in the model of the lithospheric destruction by the hot thermo-chemical plume. Model time in mln years is shown in the left corner. The solid curve marks the boundary of the depleted lithosphere.
Data
This animated movie shows the evolution of the chemical composition of the mantle (content of the pyroxenitic/eclogitic component), in the model of the lithospheric destruction by the hot thermo-chemical plume. Model time in mln years is shown in the left corner.
Conference Paper
According to widely recognised models, large igneous provinces (LIPs) develop as a result of plumes ascending from the core-mantle boundary and the associated massive melting when the plume head reaches the base of the lithosphere. Most of these models include kilometer-scale topographic uplift before and during the eruption of flood basalts. On th...
Article
Full-text available
Taking the 2011 Tohoku earthquake as an example, we demonstrate the ability of real-time GPS to provide qualified tsunami early warning within minutes. While in earlier studies we demonstrated the power of the so-called GPS shield concept based on synthetic data, we here present a complete processing chain starting from actual GPS raw data and full...
Article
Full-text available
Numerical modelling is a powerful tool to integrate a multitude of geological and geophysical data while addressing fundamental questions of passive margin formation such as the occurrence of crustal hyper-extension, (a-)symmetries between conjugate margin pairs, and the sometimes significant structural differences between adjacent margin segments....
Conference Paper
One of the most robust results from tomographic studies is the existence of two antipodally located Large Low Shear Velocity Provinces (LLSVPs) at the base of the mantle, which appear to be chemically denser than the ambient mantle. Results from reconstruction studies (Torsvik et al., 2006) infer that the LLSVPs are stable, long-lived, and are samp...
Article
Rheology is obviously important for geodynamic modeling but at the same time rheological parameters appear to be least constrained. Laboratory experiments give rather large ranges of rheological parameters and their scaling to nature is not entirely clear. Therefore finding rheological proxies in nature is very important. One way to do that is find...
Article
The collision of northward moving Indian and relatively stationary Eurasian tectonic plate, ongoing since around 55Ma, has created the Himalayan orogen. Lying on the western syntaxis of Himalaya, the Pamir-Hindu Kush is well known for being the locus of enigmatic intermediate depth seismicity and large Gneiss domes. Although the Pamirs and Tibet ar...
Article
Full-text available
The classic example of the not-well-understood rapid change of tectonic plate motion is the increase and then decrease of the convergence rate between the Nazca and South America plates during the past 25-20 m.y. that coincided with the growth of the Andes Mountains. Currently, the decrease in convergence rate is explained either by the increasing...
Article
Full-text available
In many cases the initial stage of continental break-up was and is associated with oblique rifting. That includes break-up in the Southern and Equatorial Atlantic, separation from eastern and western Gondwana as well as many recent rift systems, like Gulf of California, Ethiopia Rift and Dead Sea fault. Using a simple analytic mechanical model and...
Article
Full-text available
We present a three-dimensional finite element thermomechanical model idealizing the complex deformation processes associated with evolution of the San Andreas Fault system (SAFS) in northern and central California over the past 20 Myr. More specifically, we investigate the mechanisms responsible for the eastward (landward) migration of the San Andr...
Article
A key factor for continental break-up is the arrival of a mantle plume at Earth's continental lithosphere. In the South Atlantic, the Central Atlantic, and the Norwegian-Greenland Sea, lithospheric rifting predates break-up by several 10 My or more. Interaction between a plume and the rifting lithosphere, however, marks the beginning of the contine...
Article
The Pamir-Hindu Kush region located in the western syntaxis of the Himalaya is the locus of a large number of intermediate-depth earthquakes and an almost vertical high velocity zone, seen in seismic tomography. The seismicity is not clearly related to oceanic subduction and forms an S-shaped zone between north-western Afghanistan and the eastern P...
Article
Full-text available
The Dead Sea Transform (DST) comprises a boundary between the African and Arabian plates. During the last 15-20 m.y. more than 100 km of left lateral transform displacement has been accumulated on the DST and about 10 km thick Dead Sea Basin (DSB) was formed in the central part of the DST. Widespread igneous activity since some 20 Ma ago and especi...
Article
Full-text available
Transformation kinetics associated with the presence of a metastable olivine wedge in old and fast subducting slabs has been the subject of many studies in the last years. Even with improvements in kinetics models, many of the parameters are still not well constrained. In particular, there is no consensus on the blocking temperature that could inhi...
Article
In many cases the initial stage of continental break-up was and is associated with oblique extension. That includes several conjugated margins in the Atlantic and Indian Ocean, as well as many recent rift systems, like Gulf of California, Ethiopia Rift and Dead Sea fault. Using three-dimensional, thermo-mechanical simulations and an analytical mech...