Water Sources for Subduction Zone Volcanism: New Experimental Constraints

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Science  30 Apr 1993:
Vol. 260, Issue 5108, pp. 664-667
DOI: 10.1126/science.260.5108.664


Despite its acknowledged importance, the role of water in the genesis of subduction zone volcanism is poorly understood. Amphibole dehydration in subducting oceanic crust at a single pressure is assumed to generate the water required for melting, but experimental constraints on the reaction are limited, and little attention has been paid to reactions involving other hydrous minerals. Experiments on an oceanic basalt at pressure-temperature conditions relevant to subducting slabs demonstrate that amphibole dehydration is spread over a depth interval of at least 20 kilometers. Reactions involving other hydrous minerals, including mica, epidote, chloritoid, and lawsonite, also release water over a wide depth interval, and in some subduction zones these phases may transport water to deep levels in the mantle.