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Crustal growth at active continental margins: Numerical modeling

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Original article (peer-reviewed)
Publication date 2012
Author Vogt K. Gerya T.V Castro A.,
Project 4-D ADAMELLO: an integrated approach to understand crustal growth processes from a geodynamical, petrological and isotope geochemical perspective
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Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal Physics of the Earth and Planetary Interiors
Volume (Issue) 192(2)
Page(s) 1 - 20
Title of proceedings Physics of the Earth and Planetary Interiors
DOI 0.1016/j.pepi.2011.12.003


The dynamics and melt sources for crustal growth at active continental margins are analyzed by using a 2D coupled petrological-thermomechanical numerical model of an oceanic-continental subduction zone. This model includes spontaneous slab retreat and bending, dehydration of subducted crust, aqueous fluid transport, partial melting, melt extraction and melt emplacement in form of extrusive volcanics and intrusive plutons. We could identify the following three geodynamic regimes of crustal growth: (i) stable arcs, (ii) compressional arcs with plume development, and (iii) extensional arcs. Crustal growth in a stable subduction setting results in the emplacement of flattened intrusions in the lower crust. At first dacitic melts, extracted from partially molten rocks located atop the slab (gabbros and basalts), intrude into the lower crust followed by mantle-derived (wet peridotite) basaltic melts from the mantle wedge. Thus extending plutons form in the lower crust, characterized by a successively increasing mantle component and low magmatic addition rates (10 km(3)/km/Myrs). Compressional arcs are accomplished by the formation and emplacement of hybrid plumes. In the course of subduction localization and partial melting of basalts and sediments along the slab induces Rayleigh Taylor instabilities. Hence, buoyant plumes are formed, composed of partially molten sediments and basalts of the oceanic crust:. Subsequently. these plumes ascend, crosscutting the lithosphere before they finally crystallize within the upper crust in form of silicic intrusions. Additionally, intrusions are formed in the lower crust derived by partial melting of rocks located atop the slab (basalts, gabbros, wet peridotite) and inside the plume (basalts, sediments). Magmatic addition rates are somewhat higher compared to stable arcs (40-70 km(3)/km/Myrs). Subduction in an extensional arc setting results in decompression melting of dry peridotite. The backward motion of the subduction zone relative to the motion of the plate leads to thinning of the overriding plate. Thus, hot and dry asthenosphere rises into the neck as the slab retreats, triggering decompression melting of dry peridotite. Consequently large volumes of mafic (oceanic) crust are formed in the backarc region with total magmatic addition rates being as high as 90-170 km(3)/km/Myrs