Modelling Subduction Zone Magmatism Due to Hydraulic Fracture

Wednesday, 17 December 2014
Rebekah Lawton and John Huw Davies, Cardiff University, Cardiff, CF24, United Kingdom
The aim of this project is to test the hypothesis that subduction zone magmatism involves hydraulic fractures propagating from the oceanic crust to the mantle wedge source region (Davies, 1999). We aim to test this hypothesis by developing a numerical model of the process, and then comparing model outputs with observations. The hypothesis proposes that the water interconnects in the slab following an earthquake. If sufficient pressure develops a hydrofracture occurs. The hydrofracture will expand in the direction of the least compressive stress and propagate in the direction of the most compressive stress, which is out into the wedge. Therefore we can calculate the hydrofracture path and end-point, given the start location on the slab and the propagation distance. We can therefore predict where water is added to the mantle wedge.

To take this further we have developed a thermal model of a subduction zone. The model uses a finite difference, marker-in-cell method to solve the heat equation (Gerya, 2010). The velocity field was prescribed using the analytical expression of cornerflow (Batchelor, 1967). The markers contained within the fixed grid are used to track the different compositions and their properties. The subduction zone thermal model was benchmarked (Van Keken, 2008). We used the hydrous melting parameterization of Katz et.al., (2003) to calculate the degree of melting caused by the addition of water to the wedge. We investigate models where the hydrofractures, with properties constrained by estimated water fluxes, have random end points. The model predicts degree of melting, magma productivity, temperature of the melt and water content in the melt for different initial water fluxes. Future models will also include the buoyancy effect of the melt and residue.

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