Clustering of arc volcanoes caused by temperature perturbations in the back-arc mantle

Changyeol Lee, Ikuko Wada

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


Clustering of arc volcanoes in subduction zones indicates along-arc variation in the physical condition of the underlying mantle where majority of arc magmas are generated. The sub-arc mantle is brought in from the back-arc largely by slab-driven mantle wedge flow. Dynamic processes in the back-arc, such as small-scale mantle convection, are likely to cause lateral variations in the back-arc mantle temperature. Here we use a simple three-dimensional numerical model to quantify the effects of back-arc temperature perturbations on the mantle wedge flow pattern and sub-arc mantle temperature. Our model calculations show that relatively small temperature perturbations in the back-arc result in vigorous inflow of hotter mantle and subdued inflow of colder mantle beneath the arc due to the temperature dependence of the mantle viscosity. This causes a three-dimensional mantle flow pattern that amplifies the along-arc variations in the sub-arc mantle temperature, providing a simple mechanism for volcano clustering.

Original languageEnglish
Article number15753
JournalNature communications
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Jun 29

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
C.L. acknowledges the financial support from the National Research Foundation of Korea (35B-2011-1-C00043 and 2016K2A9A1A01946968). I.W. acknowledges the financial support from the University of Minnesota in the form of start-up funds.

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2017.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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