Tracing the evolving flux from the subducting plate in the Tonga-Kermadec arc system using boron in volcanic glass

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The influence of fluid flux on petrogenesis in the Tonga-Kermadec Arc was investigated using ion microprobe measurements of B/Be and boron isotope ratios (11B/10B) to document the source and relative volumes of the fluids released from the subducting oceanic plate. We analyzed young lavas from eight different islands along the Tonga-Kermadec Arc, as well as glass shards in volcanic sediments from Ocean Drilling Program (ODP) Site 840, which record the variations in the chemistry of Tonga magmatism since 7 Ma. B/Be is variable (5.8-122), in young Tonga-Kermadec Arc lavas. In contrast, glass shards from ~3 to 4 Ma old volcanic sediments at Site 840 have the highest B/Be values yet reported for arc lavas (18-607). These values are too high to be related simply to a sediment influence on petrogenesis. Together with very high δ11 B values (-11.6 to +37.5) for the same shards and lavas these data indicate that most of the B is derived from fluid escaped from the subducting altered Pacific oceanic crust, rather than from sediment. High δ11 B values also reflect large degrees of isotopic fractionation in this cold fast subduction zone. Lower δ11 B values noted in the Kermadec Arc (17 to -4.4) are related to the influence of sediment eroded from New Zealand and slower convergence. High fluid flux (B/Be) is synchronous in Tonga and the Marianas at 3 to 4 Ma and may be related to acceleration of the Pacific Plate just prior to this time. The timing of maximum B/Be at 3 to 4 Ma correlates with maximum light rare earth (LREE) and high field strength element depletion. This suggests maximum degrees of partial melting at this time. Although thinning of the arc lithosphere during rifting to form the Lau Basin is expected to influence the arc geochemistry, variable aqueous fluid flux from the subducting plate alone appears capable of explaining boron and other trace element systematics in the Tonga-Kermadec Arc with no indication of slab melting. Copyright © 2001 Elsevier Science Ltd.

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Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta

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