What controls the position of volcanic arcs?

Volcanic arcs are chains of volcanoes that form above a subducting slab, for example, the Cascades in the Pacific Northwest, the Japanese Archipelago, the Aleutian Islands, and parts of the Andes. Volcanic arcs are a result of rising magma produced in the mantle wedge, but the exact mechanisms controlling the arc position are debated. This study led by SWaMMIS collaborators at Imperial College London finds that the cold corner of the mantle wedge plays a key role. Results from kinematically driven 2D thermo-mechanical modelling help constrain the influence of various factors, including subduction velocity, slab dip, slab age, overriding plate thickness and the depth of decoupling between the slab and the overriding plate.

Read the article here.