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Keywords:

  • double seismic zones;
  • numerical modeling;
  • outer rise faulting;
  • serpentinization;
  • subduction;
  • water cycle

[1] The subduction of partially serpentinized oceanic mantle may potentially be the key geologic process leading to the regassing of Earth's mantle and also has important consequences for subduction zone processes such as element cycling, slab deformation, and intermediate-depth seismicity. However, little is known about the quantity of water that is retained in the slab during mantle serpentinization and the pattern of serpentinization that may occur during bending-related faulting; an initial state that is essential for quantifying subsequent dehydration processes. We present a 2-D reactive-flow model simulating hydration processes in the presence of faulting at the trench outer-rise. We find that the temperature dependence of the serpentinization rate in conjunction with outer-rise faulting results in plate age and speed dependent patterns of hydration. Serpentinization also results in a reduction in surface heat flux toward the trench caused by advective downflow of seawater into the reaction region. Observed heat flow reductions are larger than the reduction due to the minimum-water downflow needed for partial serpentinization, predicting that active hydrothermal vents and chemosynthetic communities should also be associated with bend-fault serpentinization. Our model results agree with previous studies that the lower plane of double Benioff zones can be generated due to dehydration of serpentinized mantle at depth. More importantly, the depth-dependent pattern of serpentinization including reaction kinetics predicts a separation between the two Benioff planes consistent with seismic observations.