Effects of fluid influx, fluid viscosity, and fluid density on fluid migration in the mantle wedge and their implications for hydrous melting

Nestor G. Cerpa, Ikuko Wada, Cian R. Wilson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


The migration pathways of hydrous fluids in the mantle wedge are influenced by the compaction of the porous mantle matrix, which depends on the matrix permeability, fluid viscosity, and fluid density. Experimental studies show that when fluids are interconnected, the permeability depends on mineral grain size and porosity, the latter of which depends on the amount of fluids introduced into the system (fluid influx). Here, we investigate the role of fluid influx, fluid viscosity, and fluid density in controlling fluid migration in the mantle wedge, using a 2-D numerical model accounting for the effects of grain-size variation and matrix compaction. Our models predict that fluid influx and fluid viscosity are key controls on fluid pathways, while fluid density plays a secondary role. Temperature dependence of fluid viscosity promotes downdip drag of fluids at the base of the forearc mantle toward the subarc region. High fluid influx at postarc depths promotes updip flow near the base of the mantle wedge, guiding the fluids arcward. The model that is applied to northern Cascadia predicts upward fluid migration focused beneath the arc but cannot explain high electrical conductivity observed slightly west of the upward fluid migration. We estimate the amount of hydrous melt that can be produced in the mantle wedge using calculated fluid distributions. Up to a few percent partial melting is predicted in a relatively small region in the core part of the subarc mantle wedge in most subduction settings, including northern Cascadia, and beneath the backarc in old-slab subduction zones.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-23
Number of pages23
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank T. Gerya and an anonymous reviewer for comments that helped to improve the manuscript. I.W. acknowledges financial support from the University of Minnesota in the form of start-up funds, which also supported N.G.C. C.W. was supported by NSF grant OCE-1358091. The code TerraFERMA is open-source and available at http://terraferma.github.io.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 The Authors.


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