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Tracing the Scale of Fluid Flow in Subduction Zone Forearcs: Implications from Fluid-Mobile elements

Rajič, Kristijan; Raimbourg, Hugues; Gion, Austin M.; Lerouge, Catherine; Erdmann, Saskia

Tracing the Scale of Fluid Flow in Subduction Zone Forearcs: Implications from Fluid-Mobile elements Thumbnail


Hugues Raimbourg

Austin M. Gion

Catherine Lerouge

Saskia Erdmann


Despite the importance of fluids in subduction zone processes, the extent of mass transfer and fluid circulation from the subducting plate through the forearc region remain unclear. To estimate the fluid budget and scale of fluid circulation in subducted sediments, we assess the distribution and retention of fluid-mobile elements (FME) in metamorphically equivalent metapelites from the Kodiak complex (Alaska) and the Shimanto Belt (Japan). The temperature range of interest is 230–350 °C, i.e., encompasses the base of the seismogenic zone. We examine the Li, B, Rb, Sr, Cs, and Ba concentrations in the bulk rock, as well as in fluid inclusions and individual minerals by (LA-) ICP-MS.

The whole-rock composition in metapelites from Kodiak shows no significant loss of FME, which is in contrast to Shimanto where between 10% and 55% of FME (particularly Li, B and Cs) are leached out of rocks. The FME budget in Kodiak is consistent with a redistribution of elements between metamorphic illite and chlorite, whereas in Shimanto the loss of Li, B and Cs as temperature increases is the result of decreasing concentrations in illite and chlorite. The semi-quantitative analysis of fluid inclusions is consistent with a significant enrichment in all analyzed trace elements relative to seawater and interstitial pore fluids of seafloor sediments.

Combining the fluid compositions with the whole-rock compositions, mass balance calculations were performed for B, Cs, and Ba. In the Kodiak complex the mass balance calculations are consistent with closed-system behavior, wherein the fluid is an insignificant reservoir for FME. Conversely, in the Shimanto Belt the mass balance calculations are consistent with open-system behavior, wherein large amounts of fluid percolated through rocks and the mass water-rock ratios correspond to 0.5–2.2. We infer that such an open system behavior was promoted by a larger amount of internal strain and the proximity to a large-scale fault zone. Moreover, fluid compositions observed in this study exhibit similarities to the composition of mud volcano fluids. This similarity is consistent with extensive, focused fluid circulation originating from depths of at least 15 km and ascending to the surface through a substantial damage zone associated with an out-of-sequence thrust.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date May 3, 2024
Online Publication Date May 8, 2024
Publication Date 2024-08
Deposit Date Jun 25, 2024
Publicly Available Date Jun 25, 2024
Journal Chemical Geology
Print ISSN 0009-2541
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 659
Article Number 122141
Public URL


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