How do the conventional visualizations of subduction zones reflect the reality? It is maybe worse than one would expect. I decided to find a few pictures of what should the presumed ‘subduction zones’ look like and compare them with seismic tomography images (= reality). Amazing how distant from the reality the visualizations really are.
First, let’s have a look at the seismic tomography image published in 2001 by Zhao, D. in the journal Physics of the Earth and Planetary Interiors:
We see there a continental block and the oceanic crust precipitated on it from the basaltic bath. Now try to compare the image with a few interpretations of subduction and subduction zones.
The first image comes from Wikipedia, it is well known. You can find the original image under https://pubs.usgs.gov/gip/earthq1/plate.html. It is an illustration by Jose F. Vigil from This Dynamic Planet. Just compare it with the real image above. There is no isolated plate inside the ‘bath’ in the image above, the crust is just precipitated on the block.
Another image comes from the animation made by geoscientists of the Charles University in Prague (available online here: http://geo.mff.cuni.cz/vyzkum.htm#Geodynamika). Again, it doesn’t reflect the reality observed via P-wave seismic tomography:
The last image, maybe the one most distant from the reality, comes from YouTube video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ryrXAGY1dmE). It is an animation from the BBC documentary. Amazing that it has more than 2.6 million views 🙂
We see that the reality of ‘subduction zones’ as it can be seen via P-wave seismic tomography has rather nothing to do with ‘conventional’ interpretations of sliding plates. A better explanation would be a simple precipitation of the crust on the continental block from the basaltic bath. You can read more in my previous blog post: http://expandingearthresearch.org/jan/2018/03/16/subduction-without-subduction/