Clustering of arc volcanoes in subduction zones indicates along-arc variation in the physical condition of the underlying mantle where majority of arc magmas are generated. The sub-arc mantle is brought in from the back-arc largely by slab-driven mantle wedge flow. Dynamic processes in the back-arc, such as small-scale mantle convection, are likely to cause lateral variations in the back-arc mantle temperature. Here we use a simple three-dimensional numerical model to quantify the effects of back-arc temperature perturbations on the mantle wedge flow pattern and sub-arc mantle temperature. Our model calculations show that relatively small temperature perturbations in the back-arc result in vigorous inflow of hotter mantle and subdued inflow of colder mantle beneath the arc due to the temperature dependence of the mantle viscosity. This causes a three-dimensional mantle flow pattern that amplifies the along-arc variations in the sub-arc mantle temperature, providing a simple mechanism for volcano clustering.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
C.L. acknowledges the financial support from the National Research Foundation of Korea (35B-2011-1-C00043 and 2016K2A9A1A01946968). I.W. acknowledges the financial support from the University of Minnesota in the form of start-up funds.