Geodynamic models of Archean continental collision and the formation of mantle lithosphere keels



[1] The processes responsible for the formation of thick, strong and cold Archean sub-continental lithospheric mantle (mantle keels) beneath Archean cratons remain elusive. Here, the dynamics of some such processes are studied by forward numerical modeling of the thermo-mechanical evolution of continental lithosphere undergoing collision and orogenesis under Neoarchean-like conditions. The numerical experiments illustrate that depending on the composition of the crust and the degree of radioactive heat production (RHP) in the crust, three dominant modes of mantle lithosphere deformation evolve: (1) pure-shear thickening; (2) imbrication; (3) and a mode best described as underplating. All three modes of deformation result in the thickening and emplacement of plate-like mantle lithosphere to depths between 200 km and 350 km. The transition from pure-shear thickening to imbrication is largely dependent on the degree of RHP in the crust, while the transition from the imbrication style to the underplating style is dependent on the composition of the lower crust.