Sketch of an evolution of an opening and sinking slab gap during oceanic subduction.

Evolution of an opening and sinking slab gap during oceanic subduction. This conclusive image is based on analog models of subduction, where the slab surface was monitored by 3-D scanning and the mantle flow was imaged using PIV technique. The opening slab gap allows mantle to flow from the sub-slab area to the mantle wedge area. However, this flow might only have an effect on the surface when the slab gap is near-surface and has a significant vertical extent.

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