skip to main content

Title: Slab-derived sulfate generates oxidized basaltic magmas in the southern Cascade arc (California, USA)
Abstract Whether and how subduction increases the oxidation state of Earth's mantle are two of the most important unresolved questions in solid Earth geochemistry. Using data from the southern Cascade arc (California, USA), we show quantitatively for the first time that increases in arc magma oxidation state are fundamentally linked to mass transfer of isotopically heavy sulfate from the subducted plate into the mantle wedge. We investigate multiple hypotheses related to plate dehydration and melting and the rise and reaction of slab melts with mantle peridotite in the wedge, focusing on electron balance between redox-sensitive iron and sulfur during these processes. These results show that unless slab-derived silicic melts contain much higher dissolved sulfur than is indicated by currently available experimental data, arc magma generation by mantle wedge melting must involve multiple stages of mantle metasomatism by slab-derived oxidized and sulfur-bearing hydrous components.
Award ID(s):
Publication Date:
Journal Name:
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Continental arcs in Cordilleran orogenic systems display episodic changes in magma production rate, alternating between flare ups (70–90 km3 km􀀀 1 Myr􀀀 1) and lulls (< 20 km3 km􀀀 1 Myr􀀀 1) on timescales of tens of millions of years. Arc segments or individual magmatic suites may have even higher rates, up several 100 s of km3 km􀀀 1 Myr􀀀 1, during flare ups. These rates are largely determined by estimating volumes of arc crust, but do not reflect melt production from the mantle. The bulk of mantle-derived magmas are recycled back into the mantle by delamination of arc roots after differentiation in the deep crust. Mantle-derived melt production rates for continental arcs are estimated to be 140–215 km3 km􀀀 1 Myr􀀀 1 during flare ups and ≤ 15 km3 km􀀀 1 Myr􀀀 1 during lulls. Melt production rates averaged over multiple magmatic cycles are consistent with independent estimates for partial melting of the mantle wedge in subduction zones, however, the rates during flare ups and lulls are both anomalously high and anomalously low, respectively. The difference in mantle-derived melt production between flare ups and lulls is larger than predicted by petrologic and numerical models that explore the range ofmore »globally observed subduction parameters (e.g., convergence rate, height of the mantle wedge). This suggests that other processes are required to increase magmatism during flare ups and suppress magmatism during lulls. There are many viable explanations, but one possibility is that crystallized melts from the asthenospheric mantle wedge are temporarily stored in the deep lithosphere during lulls and then remobilized during flare ups. Basaltic melts may stall in the mantle lithosphere in inactive parts of the arc system, like the back-arc, refertilizing the mantle lithosphere and suppressing melt delivery to the lower crust. Subsequent landward arc migration (i.e., toward the interior of the continent) may encounter such refertilized mantle lithosphere magma source regions, contributing to magmatic activity during a flare up. A review of continental arcs globally suggests that flare ups commonly coincide with landward arc migration and that this migration may start tens of millions of years before the flare up occurs. The region of magmatic activity, or arc width, can also expand significantly during a flare up. Arc migration or expansion into different mantle source regions and across lithospheric and crustal boundaries can cause temporal shifts in the radiogenic isotopic composition of magmatism. In the absence of arc migration, temporal shifts are more muted. Isotopic studies of mantle xenoliths and exposures of deep arc crust suggest that that primary, mantle-derived magmas generated during flare ups reflect substantial contributions from the subcontinental mantle lithosphere. Arc migration may be caused by a variety of mechanisms, including slab anchoring or slab folding in the mantle transition zone that could generate changes in slab dip. Episodic slab shallowing is associated with many tectonic processes in Cordilleran orogenic systems, like alternations between shortening and extension in the upper plate. Studies of arc migration may help to link irregular magmatic production in continental arcs with geodynamic models for orogenic cyclicity.« less
  2. Abstract Metamorphic devolatilization of subducted slabs generates aqueous fluids that ascend into the mantle wedge, driving the partial melting that produces arc magmas. These magmas have oxygen fugacities some 10–1,000 times higher than magmas generated at mid-ocean ridges. Whether this oxidized magmatic character is imparted by slab fluids or is acquired during ascent and interaction with the surrounding mantle or crust is debated. Here we study the petrology of metasedimentary rocks from two Tertiary Aegean subduction complexes in combination with reactive transport modelling to investigate the oxidative potential of the sedimentary rocks that cover slabs. We find that the metasedimentary rocks preserve evidence for fluid-mediated redox reactions and could be highly oxidized. Furthermore, the modelling demonstrates that layers of these oxidized rocks less than about 200 m thick have the capacity to oxidize the ascending slab dehydration flux via redox reactions that remove H 2 , CH 4 and/or H 2 S from the fluids. These fluids can then oxidize the overlying mantle wedge at rates comparable to arc magma generation rates, primarily via reactions involving sulfur species. Oxidized metasedimentary rocks need not generate large amounts of fluid themselves but could instead oxidize slab dehydration fluids ascending through them. Proposed Phanerozoicmore »increases in arc magma oxygen fugacity may reflect the recycling of oxidative weathering products following Neoproterozoic–Palaeozoic marine and atmospheric oxygenation.« less
  3. Most known porphyry Cu deposits formed in the Phanerozoic and are exclusively associated with moderately oxidized, sulfur-rich, hydrous arc-related magmas derived from partial melting of the asthenospheric mantle metasomatized by slab-derived fluids. Yet, whether similar metallogenic processes also operated in the Precambrian remains obscure. Here we address the issue by investigating the origin, fO2, and S contents of calc-alkaline plutonic rocks associated with the Haib porphyry Cu deposit in the Paleoproterozoic Richtersveld Magmatic Arc (southern Namibia), an interpreted mature island-arc setting. We show that the ca. 1886–1881 Ma ore-forming magmas, originated from a mantle-dominated source with minor crustal contributions, were relatively oxidized (1‒2 log units above the fayalitemagnetite- quartz redox buffer) and sulfur-rich. These results indicate that moderately oxidized, sulfur-rich arc magma associated with porphyry Cu mineralization already existed in the late Paleoproterozoic, probably as a result of recycling of sulfate-rich seawater or sediments from the subducted oceanic lithosphere at that time.
  4. Abstract Carbon flux metasomatism in the subduction environment is an important process, but it remains poorly understood. The paucity of exposed lower crust and upper mantle rocks in continental arcs renders xenoliths a major target for studying the slab-derived carbon cycle. This study of the carbonate phases in volcanic rocks from three drill cores in Ulleung Island, South Korea, sheds light on the interaction of carbon flux in the upper mantle and lower crust in a back-arc setting. The volcanic rocks from Ulleung Island range in composition from trachybasalt to trachyte and contain abundant euhedral pseudomorphic carbonate grains, ulvöspinel-hosted and biotite-hosted carbonate-silicate melt inclusions, and irregular carbonate globules. Integrated petrographic and geochemical studies of a variety of phenocrysts, carbonate phases, and carbonate-silicate inclusions in biotite and ulvöspinel indicate that recharging of carbon flux affected magma evolution. Carbon and oxygen isotopes of the pseudomorphic carbonate grains overlap with mantle values, indicating a carbonatite-like origin of the carbonate phases. The (MgO, FeO, CaO)-rich silicates in ulvöspinel-hosted silicate inclusions and pseudomorphic carbonate grains likely represent a primary melt, which formed from the partial melting of carbonated eclogite of the subducted slab within the mantle wedge beneath Ulleung Island. A petrogenetic model is proposedmore »to illustrate that the crystal mush in the magma chamber was intruded by carbonate-rich liquids and caused alteration of cumulate crystals to generate the euhedral pseudomorphic carbonate grains. The extrusive magma captured those pseudomorphic grains and erupted to form the trachybasalt-trachyte units. The observed carbonate phases and their geochemical characteristics indicate that carbon flux metasomatism played a fundamental role in this back-arc magmatism.« less
  5. Abstract We present microbeam major- and trace-element data from 14 monzodiorites collected from the Malaspina Pluton (Fiordland, New Zealand) with the goal of evaluating processes involved in the production of andesites in lower arc crust. We focus on relict igneous assemblages consisting of plagioclase and amphibole with lesser amounts of clinopyroxene, orthopyroxene, biotite and quartz. These relict igneous assemblages are heterogeneously preserved in the lower crust within sheeted intrusions that display hypersolidus fabrics defined by alignment of unstrained plagioclase and amphibole. Trace-element data from relict igneous amphiboles in these rocks reveal two distinct groups: one relatively enriched in high field strength element concentrations and one relatively depleted. The enriched amphibole group has Zr values in the range of ∼25–110 ppm, Nb values of ∼5–32 ppm, and Th values up to 2·4 ppm. The depleted group, in contrast, shows Zr values <35 ppm and Nb values <0·25 ppm, and Th is generally below the level of detection. Amphibole crystallization temperatures calculated from major elements range from ∼960 to 830 °C for all samples in the pluton; however, we do not observe significant differences in the range of crystallization temperatures between enriched (∼960–840 °C) and depleted groups (∼940–830 °C). Bulk-rock Sr and Nd isotopes are also remarkably homogeneous and showmore »no apparent difference between enriched (εNdi = 0·1 to –0·1; 87Sr/86Sri = 0·70420–0·70413) and depleted groups (εNdi = 0·3 to –0·4; 87Sr/86Sri = 0·70424–0·70411). Calculated amphibole-equilibrium melt compositions using chemometric equations indicate that melts were highly fractionated (molar Mg# <50), andesitic to dacitic in composition, and were much more evolved than bulk lower continental crust or primitive basalts and andesites predicted to have formed from hydrous melting of mantle-wedge peridotite beneath an arc. We suggest that melts originated from a common, isotopically homogeneous source beneath the Malaspina Pluton, and differences between enriched and depleted trace-element groups reflect varying contributions from subducted sediment-derived melt and sediment-derived fluid, respectively. Our data demonstrate that andesites and dacites were the dominant melts that intruded the lower crust, and their compositions mirror middle and upper bulk-continental crust estimates. Continental crust-like geochemical signatures were acquired in the source region from interaction between hydrous mantle-wedge melts and recycled subducted sediment rather than assimilation and/or remelting of pre-existing lower continental crust.« less