Do plumes exist beneath Northwest Kyushu southwest Japan?

Friday, 19 December 2014
Hidehisa Mashima, Meiji University, Center for Obsidian and Lithic Studies, Kawasaki, Japan
A thermal plume model was proposed for the Hot-spot type volcanism at Northwest Kyushu, southwest Japan in the post period of opening of the Sea of Japan. The model regards the Northwest Kyushu Basalts (NWKBs) were magmas fractionated from parental magmas with MgO = 12.8 – 18.8 wt. %, indicating that partial melting occurred at temperatures from 1330 to 1500 °C and at pressures from 1.5 to 3.0 GPa (Sakuyama et al., 2009; 2014).

 Previous petrological and observations, however, indicate that the NWKBs separated from the source mantle at pressures shallower than those inferred from the plume model. The Mg-Fe-Ni compositions of some NWKBs suggest that they could have been in equilibrium with mantle olivines with Fo = 81 – 87, meaning that they would have been not fractionated but primitive magmas. The NWKBs are associated with primitive high magnesium andesites, indicating that partial melting continued at low pressure such as 0.5 GPa (Mashima, 2009a, b). NWKBs include not garnet lherzolite xenoliths but spinel lherzolite, showing that primitive melt separation occurred at pressure lower than 2GPa (Arai et al., 2001). These lines of evidence indicate that the separation of primitive NWKBs occurred at temperature up to 1250 °C and pressures from 0.5 to 1.5 GPa, significantly lower than those assumed by the plume model.

Instead of the plume model, geology of NW Kyushu infers that the volcanism was a consequence of the tectonic evolution of NW Kyushu. The volcanism was leaks of asthenosphere thickened extensional tectonics from the Paleogene to the early Miocene. Orientations of NWKB dikes indicate their eruption was induced by the reactivation of preexisting faults under horizontal compressive stress field oriented to a NW-SE direction. This horizontally compressive stress field would have been caused by mechanical interactions between the subducting Philippine Sea pate and the Eurasian Plate. The NW Kyushu volcanism could be explained in the context of plate tectonics without the plume hypothesis.