Evidence of Volatile-Induced Melting in the Northeast Asian Upper Mantle

Yizhuo Sun, Saswata Hier-Majumder, Benoit Tauzin, Michael Walter, Maxim Ballmer, Yigang Xu, Seongryong Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


A seismic low velocity layer (LVL) above the mantle transition zone (MTZ), often thought to be caused by volatile-induced melting, can significantly modulate planetary volatile cycles. In this work, we show that an LVL observed beneath northeast Asia is characterized by small, 0.8 (Formula presented.) 0.5 vol%, average degrees of partial melting. Seismically derived P-T conditions of the LVL indicate that slab-derived (Formula presented.), possibly combined with small amounts of (Formula presented.) O, is necessary to induce melting. Modeling the reactive infiltration instability of the melt in a stationary mantle above a stalled slab, we demonstrate that the volatile-rich melt slowly rises above the stalled slab in the MTZ, with percolation velocities of 200–500 (Formula presented.) m/yr. The melt remains stable within the LVL for this geologically significant period of time, potentially transferring up to 52 Mt/yr of (Formula presented.) from the subducting slab to the mantle for an LVL similar in areal extent ((Formula presented.)) to the northeast Asian LVL. Reaction between the melt channels and the LVL mantle precipitates up to 200 ppmw solid C in localized zones. Using the inferred small melt volume fraction to model trace element abundances and isotopic signatures, we show that interaction between this melt and the surrounding mantle can over the long-term produce rocks bearing a HIMU like geochemical signature.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2021JB022167
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Oct


  • carbonate-rich melts
  • low-velocity layer
  • northeast Asia
  • reactive infiltration instability
  • transition zone
  • volatile cycle

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science


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