The impact of remotely forced mantle flow on regional subduction evolution is largely unexplored. Here we investigate this by means of 3D thermo-mechanical numerical modeling using a regional modeling domain. We start with simplified models consisting of a 600 km (or 1400 km) wide subducting plate surrounded by other plates. Mantle inflow of ∼3 cm/yr is prescribed during 25 Myr of slab evolution on a subset of the domain boundaries while the other side boundaries are open. Our experiments show that the influence of imposed mantle flow on subduction evolution is the least for trench-perpendicular mantle inflow from either the back or front of the slab leading to 10–50 km changes in slab morphology and trench position while no strong slab dip changes were observed, as compared to a reference model with no imposed mantle inflow. In experiments with trench-oblique mantle inflow we notice larger effects of slab bending and slab translation of the order of 100–200 km. Lastly, we investigate how subduction in the western Mediterranean region is influenced by remotely excited mantle flow that is computed by back-advection of a temperature and density model scaled from a global seismic tomography model. After 35 Myr of subduction evolution we find 10–50 km changes in slab position and slab morphology and a slight change in overall slab tilt. Our study shows that remotely forced mantle flow leads to secondary effects on slab evolution as compared to slab buoyancy and plate motion. Still these secondary effects occur on scales, 10–50 km, typical for the large-scale deformation of the overlying crust and thus may still be of large importance for understanding geological evolution.
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