Brittle, creep and melt damage mechanics of the lithosphere: is slow creep deformation a key to intraplate volcanic provinces?

Thursday, 18 December 2014
Jie Liu1,2, Klaus Regenauer-Lieb2,3, Ali Karrech2, Gideon Rosenbaum4 and Vladimir Lyakhovsky5, (1)Sun Yat-Sen University, Guangzhou, China, (2)University of Western Australia, Crawley, Australia, (3)CSIRO Exploration & Mining, Perth, WA, Australia, (4)University of Queensland, St Lucia, Australia, (5)Geological Survey Isreal, Jerusalem, Israel
We investigate the problem of intraplate melt generation with the aim of understanding spatial and temporal relationships between magmatism and extremely slow intraplate deformation. We present numerical models that consider feedback between melt generation and lithospheric deformation and incorporate three different damage mechanisms: brittle damage, creep damage, and melt damage. Melt conditions are calculated with a Gibbs energy minimization method, and the energy equation solved self-consistently for latent heat and shear heating effects. We use an extremely slowly lithosphere extension model (1-1.5 mm/y) to investigate the mechanics leading to intraplate volcanism in a cold lithosphere (~50mW/m2) such as the Harrat Ash-Shaam volcanic field in NW Arabia. We find that the extremely slow extension is a key to a very potent melt transfer mechanism through the lithosphere. The mechanism relies on multiple feedback mechanisms active in the accommodation of strain in the presence of fluids. These are capable of generating melts in the lithosphere/asthenosphere even in regions of relatively low heat flux. Once low degrees of partial melts are generated, the triple feedback between brittle-creep and melt damage leads to high porosity lithospheric-scale shear zones capable of transferring melts and fluids to the surface. Efficient localization in the weaker ductile domains implies that the final pattern of strain distribution is controlled by slow creep from below rather than by brittle deformation from above. Our model provides an explanation for intraplate volcanic provinces, which appear to rely on slowly deforming lithospheres. A significant finding is that slow extension, rather than fast extension, can localize melt damage more effectively in the deeper creeping section of the lithosphere. This finding may have profound implications to the fundamental dynamic control on intraplate volcanism.