Effect of Aseismic Ridge Subduction on Volcanism in the NE Lesser Antilles Arc

Wednesday, 17 December 2014: 11:50 AM
Adam J Stinton, Montserrat Volcano Observatory, Flemmings, Montserrat, Robert G Hatfield, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR, United States and Molly C McCanta, Tufts University, Medford, MA, United States
The interaction of aseismic ridges or buoyant crust in subduction zones can affect the volcanism occurring on the overriding plate. Here we describe the affect of the subduction of an aseismic ridge on volcanism in the NE Lesser Antilles. The Lesser Antilles island arc is a result of westward subduction of the North American plate beneath the Caribbean plate and stretches 800 km from Saba in the north to Grenada in the south. From Guadeloupe northwards, the arc bifurcates into an eastern, inactive arc (known as the Limestone Caribees) and a western, active arc (Volcanic Caribees). It has been suggested that this bifurcation is the result of the subduction of buoyant crust in the form of at least two aseismic ridges, in the North American plate.

In 2012, IODP Expedition 340 recovered 130 m of core from site U1396, located 55 km SW of Montserrat, Lesser Antilles. The core contains a detailed record of volcanism, in the form of more than 180 tephra layers, that stretches back nearly 4.5 Ma. This is the longest and most complete record of volcanism for the NE Lesser Antilles and provides insight into the evolution and development of the island arc in this region. A variety of techniques are being applied to the tephra layers from U1396 to determine their age, chemistry, components and origin. Here we present preliminary results from paeleomagnetic age determinations for each tephra layer to show how the subduction of aseismic ridges on the North American plate has affected the rate of volcanism and development of the island arc in the NE Lesser Antilles over the last 4.5 Ma.