Pressure-temperature conditions of ongoing regional metamorphism beneath the Japanese Islands

S. Omori, S. Kita, S. Maruyama, M. Santosh

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51 Citations (Scopus)


We evaluate the pressure-temperature (P-T) conditions of ongoing regional metamorphism at the top of the oceanic crust of the subducted Pacific and Philippine Sea plates through a combination of phase diagrams and hypocenter distribution and based on the dehydration-induced earthquake hypothesis. The brute-force method was employed to find the best match thermal structure to link the hypocenter distribution and dehydration. The estimated thermal structure varies far from the values obtained from numerical simulation. Our estimates are consistent with the qualitative physical prediction for the variation of temperature in different subduction zones and provide quantitative constraints for the models. In northeastern Japan, the P-T path for the top of the oceanic crust turns to the high-T side at a depth of around 90 km. The depth corresponds to the location of the volcanic front and an active convection of the wedge mantle below this depth is suggested. Our computations also reveal the effect of an exceptional scenario beneath the Kanto region. The temperature in the Kanto region, where the cold lid of the Philippine Sea plate prevents heating by the return-flow of mantle wedge above, is much lower than that of northeastern Japan. The subduction of younger Philippine Sea plate leads to a higher-temperature in the oceanic crust. In the central Shikoku region, the thermal structure exhibits high-T/P nature. Heating by shear deformation can explain the high-T/P path in the depth range from 20 to 35 km. The Kyushu area shows moderate type T/P path reaching up to eclogite facies conditions. In the Kii and central Shikoku region, the thermal structure exhibits high-T/P nature. However, the absolute values for the areas seem to have problem in physical context. Our results has risen the significance of sediment subduction in the southwest Japan and requirement for further improvements in this technique including the aspect of variation of the bulk composition of the subducted material.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)458-469
Number of pages12
JournalGondwana Research
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Dehydration-induced earthquake hypothesis
  • Japanese Islands
  • Ongoing regional metamorphism
  • Subduction zone
  • Tectonics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geology


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