Crustal inheritance and a top-down control on arc magmatism at Mount St Helens

Nature Geoscience
By: , and 



In a subduction zone, the volcanic arc marks the location where magma, generated via flux melting in the mantle wedge, migrates through the crust and erupts. While the location of deep magma broadly defines the arc position, here we argue that crustal structures, identified in geophysical data from the Washington Cascades magmatic arc, are equally important in controlling magma ascent and defining the spatial distribution and compositional variability of erupted material. As imaged by a three-dimensional resistivity model, a broad lower-crustal mush zone containing 3–10% interconnected melt underlies this segment of the arc, interpreted to episodically feed upper-crustal magmatic systems and drive eruptions. Mount St Helens is fed by melt channelled around a mid-Tertiary batholith also imaged in the resistivity model and supported by potential–field data. Regionally, volcanism and seismicity are almost exclusive of the batholith, while at Mount St Helens, along its margin, the ascent of viscous felsic melt is enabled by deep-seated metasedimentary rocks. Both the anomalous forearc location and composition of St Helens magmas are products of this zone of localized extension along the batholith margin. This work is a compelling example of inherited structural control on local stress state and magmatism.

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Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Crustal inheritance and a top-down control on arc magmatism at Mount St Helens
Series title Nature Geoscience
DOI 10.1038/s41561-018-0217-2
Volume 11
Year Published 2018
Language English
Publisher Springer Nature
Contributing office(s) Geology, Geophysics, and Geochemistry Science Center
Description 6 p.
First page 865
Last page 870
Country United States
State Washington
Other Geospatial Mount St. Helens
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