The mantle wedge's transient 3-D flow regime and thermal structure
Geochemistry Geophysics Geosystems
Arc volcanism, volatile cycling, mineralization, and continental crust formation are likely regulated by the mantle wedge's flow regime and thermal structure. Wedge flow is often assumed to follow a regular corner-flow pattern. However, studies that incorporate a hydrated rheology and thermal buoyancy predict internal small-scale-convection (SSC). Here, we systematically explore mantle-wedge dynamics in 3-D simulations. We find that longitudinal "Richter-rolls" of SSC (with trench-perpendicular
... axes) commonly occur if wedge hydration reduces viscosities to Շ1 Á 10 19 Pa s, although transient transverse rolls (with trench-parallel axes) can dominate at viscosities of $5 Á 10 18 21 Á 10 19 Pa s. Rolls below the arc and back arc differ. Subarc rolls have similar trench-parallel and trench-perpendicular dimensions of 100-150 km and evolve on a 1-5 Myr time-scale. Subback-arc instabilities, on the other hand, coalesce into elongated sheets, usually with a preferential trench-perpendicular alignment, display a wavelength of 150-400 km and vary on a 5-10 Myr time scale. The modulating influence of subback-arc ridges on the subarc system increases with stronger wedge hydration, higher subduction velocity, and thicker upper plates. We find that trenchparallel averages of wedge velocities and temperature are consistent with those predicted in 2-D models. However, lithospheric thinning through SSC is somewhat enhanced in 3-D, thus expanding hydrous melting regions and shifting dehydration boundaries. Subarc Richter-rolls generate time-dependent trench-parallel temperature variations of up to $150 K, which exceed the transient 50-100 K variations predicted in 2-D and may contribute to arc-volcano spacing and the variable seismic velocity structures imaged beneath some arcs.