The time evolution of negative buoyancy of a subducting slab is modelled from the beginning of subduction under various kinematic conditions (dip angle and subduction velocity). The calculations take into account the thermal and density effects of the variations of the thermophysical parameters with temperature and pressure, and of phase transitions. The magnitude of the negative buoyancy increases during subduction of oceanic lithosphere, up to values in the (2-4) x 1013 N m-1 range when the tip of the slab reaches a depth of 600-700 km. If continental material arrives at the trench and is subducted, the downward buoyancy decreases by an amount proportional to the volume of the subducted continental crust. Assuming that subduction stops when the buoyancy becomes zero, and that delamination of the continental crust or slab breakoff do not occur, the maximum downdip length of the subductable continental crust is estimated as a function of the dip angle, subduction velocity and geometry of the margin. In most cases, subduction of continental material down to depths of 100-250 km is possible, and continental subduction can continue for times up to 10-15 Ma if the velocity is low. These estimates are not significantly affected by the hypothetical occurrence of a metastable olivine wedge within the slab, and could be lower bounds if the lower continental crust is mafic and transforms to eclogite. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.

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Journal Journal of Geodynamics
Ranalli, G, Pellegrini, R. (Rita), & D'Offizi, S. (Sergio). (2000). Time dependence of negative buoyancy and the subduction of continental lithosphere. Journal of Geodynamics, 30(5), 539–555. doi:10.1016/S0264-3707(00)00011-9