Date of Original Version
Convergent margin igneous activity is generally limited to 100–200 km from the trench except where spreading ridges are subducted or in association with Subduction-Transform Edge Propagators (STEP faults). The southernmost Mariana forearc, facing the Challenger Deep, subducts Mesozoic seafloor and is not in a STEP fault setting but includes at least one site where tholeiitic basalts recently erupted close to the trench, the SE Mariana Forearc Rift (SEMFR). We present evidence of young basaltic volcanism from ca. 100 km west of SEMFR. Shinkai 6500 diving during YK13-08 (Dive 1363) recovered volcaniclastics from 5.5 to 6 km deep in the inner wall of the Mariana Trench, 50 km NE of the Challenger Deep. Glassy fragments are tholeiitic basalts similar to MORB except for much higher contents of magmatic water (approx. 2% H2O vs. 2O in MORB) and enrichments in trace elements Rb-Cs-Ba, K, Pb, and Sr. Dive 1363 glasses are similar to basalts from SEMFR erupted near the trench and to Mariana Trough backarc basin basalts. Basalt fragments and palagonitized matrix dominate the studied samples, but small xenocrysts and xenoliths derived from mantle peridotite and Neogene volcanics are also present, probably torn from the vent walls. Dive 1363 hyaloclastites erupted at 3–6 km water depth accompanied by vigorous degassing of volatiles, most likely CO2. These results provide further evidence that the forearc adjacent to the Challenger Deep has been invaded by asthenospheric mantle and derivative hydrous melts. Extension, hydration, and melt invasion combine to further weaken Challenger Deep forearc lithosphere. Combined effects of: (i) absence of strong, cold lithosphere of the overriding plate; (ii) rapid rollback of a narrow, short subducted slab; and (iii) weak coupling between the subducting Pacific plate and the overriding Mariana plate may be responsible for the great depth of the Challenger Deep.
Stern, Robert J.; Ren, Minghua; Kelley, Katherine A.; Ohara, Yasuhiko; Martinez, Fernando; Bloomer, Sherman H. (2014). "Basaltic volcaniclastics from the Challenger Deep forearc segment, Mariana convergent margin: Implications for tectonics and magmatism of the southernmost Izu- Bonin- Mariana arc." Island Arc. 23(4): 368-382.