A very hydrous mantle under the western Pacific region: Implications for formation of marginal basins and style of Archean plate tectonics

Tsuyoshi Komiya, Shigenori Maruyama

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    43 Citations (Scopus)


    The western Pacific region has been refrigerated by the subducting cold oceanic plates since 450 Ma. However, the region is also characterized by the presence of many oceanic microplates less than 1300 km across, as well as active magmatism; the Philippine Sea plate is representative. We have compiled and examined petrochemical characters of drilled basalts of DSDP from the Philippine Sea plate, and conclude that the source mantle for oceanic basalts is rich in water ca. 0.2 wt.%, and is 50-60 °C lower than that for MORB. The extensive melting is due to the high water content in the source mantle. It is well known that some marginal basins apparently have greater depths than the major oceans. We calculated the age-depth correlation based on a model of transient half-space cooling at given parameters of temperatures of mantle and surface, 1280 and 0 °C, and the thermal diffusivity, 1 mm2 s- 1. The calculation shows the correlation of age-residual depth from a mid-oceanic ridge is 367 sqrt(age (m y)) for the Philippine Sea, consistent with the bathymetric data. Moreover, the mid-oceanic ridge may be relatively deep because this region is underlain by the cooler mantle. Addition of water to the mantle peridotite lowers the solidus temperature and viscosity. Melting experiments of hydrous peridotite show that addition of 0.2 wt.% H2O content lowers the solidus temperature by 150 °C. As a result, the mantle under the region may practically correspond to a ca. 90 °C hotter mantle than normal MORB-source mantle in terms of magmatism and rheology. Numerical simulation for a hotter mantle suggests that many small plates should be formed because of extensive heat release by active magmatism, consistent with many microplates in this region. The presence of many oceanic microplates may be analogous to Archean plate tectonics, characterized by a hotter mantle.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)132-147
    Number of pages16
    JournalGondwana Research
    Issue number1-2
    Publication statusPublished - Jan 2007


    • Archean plate tectonics
    • Marginal basins
    • Refrigerated hydrous mantle
    • The western Pacific region

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Geology


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