Numerical models on thermal structure, convective flow of solid, generation and transportation of H2O-rich fluid in subduction zones are consolidated to have a comprehensive view of the subduction zone processes: heat balance, circulation of H2O magmatism-metamorphism, growth of arcs and continental margins. A large scale convection model with steady subduction of a cold old slab (130 Myr old) predicts rapid (∼ 100 Myr) cooling of subduction zones, resulting in cessation of magmatism. The model also predicts that the mantle temperature beneath arcs and continental margins is greatly affected by the effective temperature of the subducting slab, i.e., the age of the subducting slab. If subduction of a young hot slab, including ridge subduction, occurs every 60 to 120 Myr as is suggested for eastern Asia, the average temperature beneath arcs is increased by about 300 °C, which may explain the long-lasting magmatism in eastern Asia. Associated with subduction of young slabs and ridges, thermal structure and circulation of H2O are greatly modified to cause a transition from (1) normal arc magmatism, (2) forearc mantle melting, to (3) slab melting to produce a significant amount (100 km3) of granitic melts, associated with both high-P/T and low-P/T type metamorphism. The last stage of (3) can result in formation of a granitic batholith belt and a paired metamorphic belts. Synthesis of the numerical models and observations suggest that episodic subduction of young slabs and ridges can explain heat source for generating a large amount of granitic magmas of batholiths, synchronous formation of batholith and regional metamorphic belts, and P-T conditions of the paired metamorphism. Even the high-P/T metamorphism requires an elevated geothermal structure in the forearc region, associated with ridge subduction. Although the emplacement of the batholiths and the regional metamorphic belts, and the mass balance in subduction zones are not well constrained at present, the episodic event associated with ridge subduction is thought to be essential for net growth of arcs and continental margins, as well as for the long-term heat balance in subduction zones.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)