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Giant magmatic water reservoirs at mid-crustal depth inferred from electrical conductivity and the growth of the continental crust

Laumonier, Mickael, Gaillard, Fabrice, Muir, Duncan, Blundy, Jon and Unsworth, Martyn 2017. Giant magmatic water reservoirs at mid-crustal depth inferred from electrical conductivity and the growth of the continental crust. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 457 , pp. 173-180. 10.1016/j.epsl.2016.10.023

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The formation of the continental crust at subduction zones involves the differentiation of hydrous mantle-derived magmas through a combination of crystallization and crustal melting. However, understanding the mechanisms by which differentiation occurs at depth is hampered by the inaccessibility of the deep crust in active continental arcs. Here we report new high-pressure electrical conductivity and petrological experiments on hydrated andesitic melt from Uturuncu volcano on the Bolivian Altiplano. By applying our results to regional magnetotelluric data, we show that giant conductive anomalies at mid-crustal levels in several arcs are characterized by relatively low amounts of intergranularandesitic partial melts with unusually high dissolved water contents (≥8 wt.% H2O). Below Uturuncu, the Altiplano-Puna Magma Body (APMB) displays an electrical conductivity that requires high water content (up to 10wt.%) dissolved in the melt based on crystal-liquid equilibria and melt H2O solubility experiments. Such a super-hydrous andesitic melt must constitute about 10% of the APMB, the remaining 90% being a combination of magmatic cumulates and older crustal rocks. The crustal ponding level of these andesites at around 6kbar pressure implies that on ascent through the crust hydrous magmas reach their water saturation pressure in the mid-crust, resulting in decompression-induced crystallization that increases magma viscosity and in turn leads to preferential stalling and differentiation. Similar high conductivity features are observed beneath the Cascades volcanic arc and Taupo Volcanic Zone. This suggests that large amounts of water in super-hydrous andesitic magmas could be a common feature of active continental arcs and may illustrate a key step in the structure and growth of the continental crust. One Sentence Summary:Geophysical, laboratory conductivity and petrological experiments reveal that deep electrical conductivity anomalies beneath the Central Andes, Cascades and Taupo Volcanic Zone image the ponding of super-hydrous andesitic melts whichcontributes to the growth of continental crust.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Earth and Environmental Sciences
Subjects: Q Science > Q Science (General)
Uncontrolled Keywords: electrical conductivity water andesite continental crust growth arc magmas
Publisher: Elsevier
ISSN: 0012-821X
Funders: Natural and Environmental Research Council
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 27 October 2016
Date of Acceptance: 12 October 2016
Last Modified: 05 Oct 2020 08:44

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