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Keywords:

  • double seismic zone;
  • dehydration embrittlement;
  • serpentine;
  • oceanic crust;
  • subducting plate

[1] Dehydration embrittlement of metamorphosed oceanic crust and mantle in the subducting slab may be responsible for the occurrence of intermediate-depth earthquakes. We explore the possibility that this hypothesis can explain the morphology of the double seismic zones observed in northeast Japan, southwest Japan, northeast Taiwan, northern Chile, Cape Mendocino, and eastern Aleutians. We calculate transient temperature structures of slabs based on geologically estimated subduction histories of these regions. We then determine dehydration loci of metamorphosed oceanic crust and serpentinized mantle using experimentally derived phase diagrams. The depth range of the dehydration loci of metamorphosed oceanic crust and serpentine is dependent on slab age. The dehydration loci of serpentine produce a double-layered structure. Because the upper dehydration loci of serpentine are mostly located in the wedge mantle above the slab, we regard the upper plane seismicity representing dehydration embrittlement in the oceanic crust, and we fix the slab geometry so that the upper plane seismicity is just below the upper surface of the slab. We find that the lower plane seismicity is located at the lower dehydration loci of serpentine, which indicates that the morphology of the double seismic zones is consistent with the dehydration embrittlement.