Melting features along the western Ryukyu slab edge (northeast Taiwan): Tomographic evidence



[1] Behind the sedimentary Ryukyu arc lies the Okinawa Trough, whose termination is located at the tip of the Ilan plain (northern Taiwan), just above the Ryukyu slab edge. The present-day active volcanic front is located 80–100 km above the Ryukyu slab and extends from Japan to Kueishantao Island, an islet situated 10 km offshore the Ilan plain. Between December 1990 and May 1999, 3370 earthquakes recorded in northern Taiwan by 65 seismic land stations were used to determine the three-dimensional Vp and Vs velocity structures and Vp/Vs ratios. A low Vs but high Vp/Vs sausage-like body, ∼30 km in diameter, lies within the Eurasian mantle wedge, on top of the western Ryukyu slab extremity, at depths ranging between 20 and 100 km. We suggest that the H2O-rich component formed by dehydration processes from subducting sediments, oceanic crust, and serpentinized mantle above the Ryukyu slab and along the vertical portion of the slab edge might explain the presence of the sausage-like body. A low Vs but high Vp/Vs channel rises obliquely from the sausage-like body at a depth of 40 km in direction of the andesitic Kueishantao Island. We propose that the H2O-rich component and/or melt rise up from the sausage-like body and interfere with the Okinawa Trough back arc basin magmas formed in the upper mantle/lower crust. Then magmas propagate upward within the upper brittle crust through veins and/or narrow conduits.