Helium as a tracer for fluids released from Juan de Fuca lithosphere beneath the Cascadia forearc

Geochemistry International
By: , and 

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Abstract

The ratio between helium isotopes (3He/4He) provides an excellent geochemical tracer for investigating the sources of fluids sampled at the Earth's surface. 3He/4He values observed in 25 mineral springs and wells above the Cascadia forearc document a significant component of mantle-derived helium above Juan de Fuca lithosphere, as well as variability in 3He enrichment across the forearc. Sample sites arcward of the forearc mantle corner (FMC) generally yield significantly higher ratios (1.2-4.0 RA) than those seaward of the corner (0.03-0.7 RA). The highest ratios in the Cascadia forearc coincide with slab depths (40-45 km) where metamorphic dehydration of young oceanic lithosphere is expected to release significant fluid and where tectonic tremor occurs, whereas little fluid is expected to be released from the slab depths (25-30 km) beneath sites seaward of the corner.Tremor (considered a marker for high fluid pressure) and high RA values in the forearc are spatially correlated. The Cascadia tremor band is centered on its FMC, and we tentatively postulate that hydrated forearc mantle beneath Cascadia deflects a significant portion of slab-derived fluids updip along the subduction interface, to vent in the vicinity of its corner. Furthermore, high RA values within the tremor band just arcward of the FMC, suggest that the innermost mantle wedge is relatively permeable.Conceptual models require: (1) a deep fluid source as a medium to transport primordial 3He; (2) conduits through the lithosphere which serve to speed fluid ascent to the surface before significant dilution from radiogenic 4He can occur; and (3) near lithostatic fluid pressure to keep conduits open. Our spatial correlation between high RA values and tectonic tremor provides independent evidence that tremor is associated with deep fluids, and it further suggests that high pore pressures associated with tremor may serve to keep fractures open for 3He migration through ductile upper mantle and lower crust.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Helium as a tracer for fluids released from Juan de Fuca lithosphere beneath the Cascadia forearc
Series title Geochemistry International
DOI 10.1002/2015GC006198
Volume 17
Issue 6
Year Published 2016
Language English
Publisher American Geophysical Union
Contributing office(s) Earthquake Science Center
Description 16 p.
First page 2423
Last page 2449
Country New Zealand