How do new subduction zones start in Atlantic-type oceans? This was the theme of the most recent IDL Earth Sci talks that took place last July 19, 2019, at the Instituto Dom Luiz (IDL). The lecture entitled “The Caribbean plateau transfer from Pacific to Atlantic: implications for subduction initiation” was given by the geologist Nicolas Riel, currently a researcher at the University of Mainz in Germany. Nicolas Riel has been conducting research on numerical modeling and subduction namely on development of 3D geodynamic models, with the aim of understanding the mechanisms responsible for the initiation of new subduction zones along passive margins. The Atlantic Ocean margins are mostly passive however, there are already sites with small active subduction zones, such as those of the Caribbean Arch, the Scottish Arch and possibly the area adjacent to the Gibraltar Arch. These sites together provide a unique opportunity to investigate the mechanisms controlling the process for subduction initiation, which is nowadays one of the major problems of Plate Tectonics Theory.
Nicolas Riel collaborates with several IDL researchers, including Filipe Rosas and Joao Moedas Duarte, and is the co-director of the Ph.D. project of Jaime Almeida, student of the EarthSystems Doctoral Program.