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Solid earth sciences
Mantle hydration and Cl-rich fluids in the subduction forearc
Subduction, Fluids, Forearc mantle, Salinity, Chlorine
Potential location of high-salinity fluids in the forearc mantle and pathways of mixing with hotsprings and the volcanic arc. Magnetotelluric profiles in the Cascadia subduction (Wannamaker, et al. 2014) are shown on the right and are interpreted on the left. The southernmost section shows the highest conductivity in the forearc (green ellipse) that is interpreted as up to 1 m NaCl fluids using diagrams in Fig. 2. Lower forearc conductivities (green ellipses) on the other two sections indicate dilution by more than one order of magnitude by low-salinity dehydration fluids from the slab or a decrease by more than one order of magnitude of the fluid fraction. This is attributed drainage to shallow aquifers above the forearc region (e. g., the Willamette basin in Oregon, WB) or to the volcanic arc (VA) region (green arrows). High-conductivity regions further east are ascribed to melt-rich regions under the volcanic arc (red ellipses)
In the forearc region, aqueous fluids are released from the subducting slab at a rate depending on its thermal state. Escaping fluids tend to rise vertically unless they meet permeability barriers such as the deformed plate interface or the Moho of the overriding plate. Channeling of fluids along the plate interface and Moho may result in fluid overpressure in the oceanic crust, precipitation of quartz from fluids, and low Poisson ratio areas associated with tremors. Above the subducting plate, the forearc mantle wedge is the place of intense reactions between dehydration fluids from the subducting slab and ultramafic rocks leading to extensive serpentinization. The plate interface is mechanically decoupled, most likely in relation to serpentinization, thereby isolating the forearc mantle wedge from convection as a cold, potentially serpentinized and buoyant, body. Geophysical studies are unique probes to the interactions between fluids and rocks in the forearc mantle, and experimental constrains on rock properties allow inferring fluid migration and fluid-rock reactions from geophysical data. Seismic velocities reveal a high degree of serpentinization of the forearc mantle in hot subduction zones, and little serpentinization in the coldest subduction zones because the warmer the subduction zone, the higher the amount of water released by dehydration of hydrothermally altered oceanic lithosphere. Interpretation of seismic data from petrophysical constrain is limited by complex effects due to anisotropy that needs to be assessed both in the analysis and interpretation of seismic data. Electrical conductivity increases with increasing fluid content and temperature of the subduction. However, the forearc mantle of Northern Cascadia, the hottest subduction zone where extensive serpentinization was first demonstrated, shows only modest electrical conductivity. Electrical conductivity may vary not only with the thermal state of the subduction zone, but also with time for a given thermal state through variations of fluid salinity. High-Cl fluids produced by serpentinization can mix with the source rocks of the volcanic arc and explain geochemical signatures of primitive magma inclusions. Signature of deep high-Cl fluids was also identified in forearc hot springs. These observations suggest the existence of fluid circulations between the forearc mantle and the hot spring hydrothermal system or the volcanic arc. Such circulations are also evidenced by recent magnetotelluric profiles.