General Info

Zhong-Hai Li

(PhD, Professor)

Key Laboratory of Computational Geodynamics,

College of Earth and Planetary Sciences,

University of Chinese Academy of Sciences,

Yuquan Road 19A,

Beijing, 100049, China

Phone: +86 10 88256719

E-mail: li.zhonghai(at)

Research Group webpage


2001-2005 : (B.S.), Department of Marine Geology, Tongji University, China

2005-2010 : (Ph.D.), Department of Earth Sciences, Nanjing University, China

2007-2009 : (Joint Ph.D.), Institute of Geophysics, ETH-Zurich, Switzerland

2010-2012 : (PostDoc), FAST Laboratory, CNRS & University of Paris Sud XI, France

2012-2015 : (Research A./Prof.), Institute of Geology, Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences, China

2015-2020 : (Research Prof.), University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, China

2020-Now : (Tenured Prof.), University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, China

Research Interests

Research direction : Computational Geodynamics

Key words :

(1) Numerical methods : numerical modeling, rheology, finite difference method, finite element method, boundary element method

(2) Subduction dynamics : subduction initiation, subduction mode selection, fluid-melt activity, magmatism, seismic anisotropy, western Pacific subduction zones

(3) Continental collision : continental deep subduction, ultra-high pressure metamorphism and exhumation, lithosphere delamination, lateral extrusion/escape, Tibetan plateau, Tethys system

(4) Earth system dynamics : deep Earth process, material circulation, energy exchange, deep water cycling, carbon cycling, surface response, environmental evolution

(5) Planetary dynamics : continental formation, lithospheric evolution, beyond plate tectonics, early Earth dynamics, planetary evolution

Teaching Courses

<Rheology in the Earth's Interior>

Main Fundings

2023-2027 : NSFC - National Science Fund for Distinguished Young Scholars (42225403, PI)

2022-2027 : MOST - National Key Research and Development Program Subject (2022YFF0801001, PI)

2022-2025 : UCAS - Innovation Group of Outstanding Young Scholars (E2ET0410X2, PI)

2020-2024 : CAS - Strategic Priority Research Program Subject (XDB42020202, PI)

2019-2022 : NSFC - Key Program (91855208, PI)

2018-2021 : NSFC - General Program (41774108, PI)

2017-2019 : NSFC - National Science Fund for Outstanding Young Scholars (41622404, PI)

2017-2018 : PetroChina - Foreland Basin Program Subject (2016B-0501, PI)

2016-2021 : CAS - Strategic Priority Research Program Subject (XDB18020104, PI)

2014-2016 : NSFC - Young Scholar Program (41304071, PI)

Representative Publications

( * Corresponding author )


Cui F.Y., Li Z.H.*, (2024). Terrane collision-induced subduction initiation: Mode selection and implications for western Pacific subduction system. Geochemistry Geophysics Geosystems, 25, e2023GC011155. <>

Li Z.H.*, (2024). Hot versus cold subduction initiation. National Science Review, 11, nwae012. <>

Fu H.Y., Li Z.H.*, (2024). Roles of continental mid-lithosphere discontinuity in the craton instability under variable tectonic regimes. Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth, 129, e2023JB028022. <>

Chen Y.Y.*, Li Z.H.*, Tang K., Shi Y.L., (2024).  Mechanism of metamorphic fluid expulsion from ductile contact aureole: Insights from numerical modeling of a growing mid-crustal magma chamber. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 626, 118545. <>

Li Q., Li Z.H.*, Huangfu P.P., (2024). Numerical constraints on the one-stage and two-stage Greater India collision models. Terra Nova, 36, 126-137. <>

Wang Y., Li Z.H.*, Huangfu P.P., (2023). Continental Deep Subduction Versus Subduction Cessation: The Fate of Collisional Orogens. Tectonics, 42, e2022TC007695. <>

Li Z.H.*, Cui F.Y., Yang S.T., Zhong X.Y., (2023). Key geodynamic processes and driving forces of Tethyan evolution. Science China Earth Sciences, 66, 2666-2685. <>

Zhong X.Y., Li Z.H.*, (2023). Compression at strike-slip fault is a favorable condition for subduction initiation. Geophysical Research Letters, 50, e2022GL102171. <>

Fu H.Y., Li Z.H.*, Chen L., (2022). Continental mid-lithosphere discontinuity: a water collector during craton evolution. Geophysical Research Letters, 49, e2022GL101569. <>

Li Z.H.*, Liao J., Liu L.J., Faccenda M., (2022). Editorial: Subduction and Collision Dynamics of Tectonic Plates. Frontiers in Earth Science, 10, 1023604. <>

Wang Y., Zhang L.F.*, Li Z.H.*, (2022). Metamorphic densification can account for the missing felsic crust of the Greater Indian continent. Communications Earth & Environment, 3, 166. <>

Li Q., Li Z.H.*, Zhong X.Y., (2022). Overriding lithospheric strength affects continental collisional mode selection and subduction transference: Implications for Greater India-Asia convergent system. Frontiers in Earth Science, 10, 919174. <>

Cui Q.H., Li Z.H.*, (2022). Along-strike variation of convergence rate and pre-existing weakness contribute to Indian slab tearing beneath Tibetan Plateau. Geophysical Research Letters, 49, e2022GL098019. <>

Zhong X.Y., Li Z.H.*, (2022). Wedge-shaped southern Indian continental margin without proper weakness hinders subduction initiation. Geochemistry Geophysics Geosystems, 23, e2021GC009998. <>

Zhong X.Y., Li Z.H.*, (2022). Formation of metamorphic soles underlying ophiolites during subduction initiation: A systematic numerical study. Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth, 127, e2021JB023431. <>

Zhang Q.C.*, Li Z.H.*, Wu Z.H., Chen X.H., Zhang J.E., Yang Y., (2022). Subduction initiation of the western Proto-Tethys Ocean: New evidence from the Cambrian intra-oceanic forearc ophiolitic mélange in the western Kunlun Orogen, NW Tibetan Plateau. Geological Society of America Bulletin, 134, 145-159. <>

Li Z.H.*, (2022). Integrated thermodynamic and thermomechanical numerical modeling: A useful method for studying deep Earth water and carbon cycling. Geosystems and Geoenvironment, 1, 100002. <>

Cui Q.H., Li Z.H.*, Liu M., (2021). Crustal thickening versus lateral extrusion during India-Asia continental collision: 3-D thermo-mechanical modeling. Tectonophysics, 818, 229081. <>

Shi Y.N., Li Z.H.*, Chen L., Morgan J.*, (2021). Connection between a subcontinental plume and the mid-lithospheric discontinuity leads to fast and intense craton lithospheric thinning. Tectonics, 40, e2021TC006711. <>

Zhong X.Y., Li Z.H.*, (2021). Subduction initiation at passive continental margins: A review based on numerical studies. Solid Earth Sciences, 6, 249-267. <>

Pei X., Li Z.H.*, Shi Y.L.*, (2021). Formation mechanism of arcuate tectonic structures around northeast Tibetan plateau: Insight from 3‐D numerical modeling. Terra Nova, 33, 345-355. <>

Huangfu P.P., Li Z.H.*, Zhang K.J., Fan W.M., Zhao J.M., Shi Y.L., (2021). India-Tarim lithospheric mantle collision beneath western Tibet controls the Cenozoic building of Tian Shan. Geophysical Research Letters, 48, e2021GL094561. <>

Yang S.T., Li Z.H.*, Wan B., Chen L., Kaus B., (2021). Subduction‐induced back‐arc extension versus far‐field stretching: Contrasting modes for continental marginal break‐up. Geochemistry Geophysics Geosystems, 22, e2020GC009416. <>

Li Z.H.*, Cui Q.H., Zhong X.Y., Liu M.Q., Wang Y., Huangfu P.P., (2021). Numerical modeling of continental dynamics: Questions, progress and perspectives. Acta Geologica Sinica, 95, 238-258. <>


Li Z.H.*, (2020). Flat subduction versus big mantle wedge: contrasting modes for deep hydration and overriding craton modification. Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth, 125, e2020JB020018. <>

Zhong X.Y., Li Z.H.*, (2020). Subduction initiation during collision-induced subduction transference: Numerical modeling and implications for the Tethyan evolution. Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth, 125, e2019JB019288. <>

Zhou X., Li Z.H.*, Gerya T., Stern R., (2020). Lateral propagation-induced subduction initiation at passive continental margins controlled by pre-existing lithospheric weakness. Science Advances, 6, eaaz1048. <>

Shi Y.N., Niu F.L., Li Z.H.*, Huangfu P.P., (2020). Craton destruction links to the interaction between subduction and mid-lithospheric discontinuity: Implications for the eastern North China Craton. Gondwana Research, 83, 49-62. <>

Li Z.H.*, Yang S.T., Liu M.Q., Huangfu P.P., (2019). Aqueous fluid activity and its effects in the subduction zones: A systematic numerical modeling study. Earth Science, 44, 3984-3992. <>

Zhong X.Y., Li Z.H.*, (2019). Forced subduction initiation at passive continental margins: velocity‐driven versus stress‐driven. Geophysical Research Letters, 46, 11054-11064. <>

Lei T., Li Z.H.*, Liu M.*, (2019). Removing mantle lithosphere under orogens: delamination versus convective thinning. Geophysical Journal International, 219, 877-896. <>

Zhou X., Xu Z.Q., Li Z.H.*, Huangfu P.P., Zhang J.J., (2019). Dynamics of subducting plate in the upper mantle: numerical modeling. Chinese Journal of Geophysics, 62, 2455-2465. <>

Li Z.H.*, Gerya T., Connolly J., (2019). Variability of subducting slab morphologies in the mantle transition zone: Insight from petrological-thermomechanical modeling. Earth-Science Reviews, 196, 102874. <>

Huangfu P.P., Li Z.H.*, Fan W.M., Zhang K.J., Shi Y.L., (2019). Continental lithospheric-scale subduction versus crustal-scale underthrusting in the collision zone: Numerical modeling. Tectonophysics, 757, 68-87. <>

Yang S.H., Li Z.H.*, (2018). A numerical calculation approach based on FEM for long-term deformation of lithosphere. Journal of Geomechanics, 24, 768-775. <>

Huangfu P.P., Li Z.H.*, Gerya T., Fan W.M., Zhang K.J., Zhang H., Shi Y.L., (2018). Multi-terrane structure controls the contrasting lithospheric evolution beneath the western and central-eastern Tibetan plateau. Nature Communications, 9, 3780. <>

Liu M.Q., Li Z.H.*, (2018). Dynamics of thinning and destruction of the continental cratonic lithosphere: Numerical modeling. Science China: Earth Sciences, 61, 823-852. <>

Zhou X., Li Z.H.*, Gerya T., Stern R., Xu Z.Q., Zhang J.J., (2018). Subduction initiation dynamics along a transform fault control trench curvature and ophiolite ages. Geology, 46, 607-610. <>

Shi Y.N., Wei D.P.*, Li Z.H.*, Liu M.Q., Liu M.X., (2018). Subduction mode selection during slab and mantle transition zone interaction: Numerical modeling. Pure and Applied Geophysics, 175, 529-548. <>

Yang S.H., Li Z.H.*, Gerya T., Xu Z.Q., Shi Y.L., (2018). Dynamics of terrane accretion during seaward continental drifting and oceanic subduction: Numerical modeling and implications for the Jurassic crustal growth of the Lhasa Terrane, Tibet. Tectonophysics, 746, 212-228. <>

Liu M.Q., Li Z.H.*, Yang S.H.*, (2017). Diapir versus along-channel ascent of crustal material during plate convergence: Constrained by the thermal structure of subduction zones. Journal of Asian Earth Sciences, 145, 16-36. <>

Yang S.H., Xu Z.Q., Li Z.H.*, Shi Y.L., (2017). Constraint of impact craters on ice thickness on the Europa. Chinese Journal of Geophysics, 60, 935-940. <>

Li Z.H.*, Liu M., Gerya T., (2016). Lithosphere delamination in continental collisional orogens: A systematic numerical study. Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth, 121, 5186-5211. <>

Li Z.H.*, Shi Y.L., (2016). Constraints of 3-D plate geometry on the dynamics of continental deep subduction. Chinese Journal of Geophysics, 59, 2806-2817. <>

Li Z.H.*, (2016). Applications of boundary-element method in computational geodynamics. Journal of University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, 33, 89-96. <>

Peng M., Jiang M., Li Z.H.*, Xu Z.Q., Zhu L.P., Chan W., Chen Y.L., Wang Y.X., Yu C.Q., Lei J.S., Zhang L.S., Li Q.Q., Xu L.H., (2016). Complex Indian subduction style with slab fragmentation beneath the eastern Himalayan Syntaxis revealed by teleseismic P-wave tomography. Tectonophysics, 667, 77-86. <>


Li Z.H.*, Xu Z.Q., (2015). Dynamics of along-strike transition between oceanic subduction and continental collision: Effects of fluid-melt activity. Acta Petrologica Sinica, 31, 3524-3530. <>

Li Z.H.*, Liu M.Q., Gerya T., (2015). Material transportation and fluid-melt activity in the subduction channel: numerical modeling. Science China: Earth Sciences, 58, 1251-1268. <>

Li Z.H.*, Di Leo J., Ribe N., (2014). Subduction-induced mantle flow, finite strain and seismic anisotropy: Numerical modeling. Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth, 119, 5052-5076. <>

Li Z.H.*, (2014). A review on the numerical geodynamic modeling of continental subduction, collision and exhumation. Science China: Earth Sciences, 57, 47-69. <>

Li Z.H.*, Xu Z.Q., Gerya T., Burg J.P., (2013). Collision of continental corner from 3-D numerical modeling. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 380, 98-111. <>

Li Z.H.*, Ribe N., (2012). Dynamics of free subduction from 3-D Boundary-Element modeling. Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth, 117, B06408. <>

Li Z.H.*, Xu Z.Q., Gerya T., (2012). Numerical geodynamic modeling of continental convergent margins. In: Earth Sciences, Ed. Imran Ahmad Dar, Pub. InTech, pp. 273-296. <>

Li Z.H.*, Xu Z.Q., Gerya T., (2011). Flat versus steep subduction: contrasting modes for the formation and exhumation of high- to ultrahigh-pressure rocks in continental collision zones. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 301, 65-77. <>

Li Z.H.*, Gerya T., Burg J.P., (2010). Influence of tectonic overpressure on P-T paths of HP-UHP rocks in continental collision zones: Thermomechanical modeling. Journal of Metamorphic Geology, 28, 227-247. <>

Li Z.H.*, Gerya T., (2009). Polyphase formation and exhumation of high- to ultrahigh-pressure rocks in continental subduction zone: Numerical modeling and application to the Sulu ultrahigh-pressure terrane in eastern China. Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth, 114, B09406. <>

22, e2020GC00941622, e2020GC009416

Open Positions

(1) MSc and PhD thesis projects

Students with background of geology, geophysics or computational mathematics, etc, are wellcome.

(2) Postdoc research projects

PhDs (candidates) on computational geodynamics are wellcome. The postdoc positions in our university include three levels with different but highly competitive salaries: general postdoc, UCAS research assistant, CAS research assistant. Please contact for more details if interested.