Subduction and Oceanic Trenches Subduction is the process that takes place at convergent boundaries by which one tectonic plate moves under another tectonic plate and sinks into the mantle as the plates converge. Plates include both oceanic crust and continental crust.
Stable subduction zones involve the oceanic crust of one plate sliding beneath the continental crust or oceanic crust of another plate. That is, the subducted crust is always oceanic while the overriding crust may or may not be oceanic.
Subduction zones are often noted for their high rates of volcanism, earthquakes, and mountain building. Formation of Trench: Trenches are centerpieces of the distinctive physiography of a convergent plate margin.
As the subducting plate approaches the trench, it is first bent upwards to form the outer trench swell, then descends to form the outer trench slope. The outer trench slope is disrupted by a set of subparallel normal faults which staircase the seafloor down to the trench. The plate boundary is defined by the trench axis itself.
Beneath the inner trench wall, the two plates slide past each other along the subduction decollement, the seafloor intersection of which defines the trench location.
The overriding plate contains volcanic arc (generally) and a forearc. The volcanic arc is caused by physical and chemical interactions between the subducted plate at depth and asthemospheric mantle associated with the overriding plate. The forearc lies between the trench and the volcanic arc.
Forearcs have the lowest heat flow from the interior Earth because there is no asthenosphere (convecting mantle) between the forearc lithosphere and the cold subducting plate.