Water is carried by subducting slabs as a pore fluid and in structurally bound minerals, yet no comprehensive quantification of water content and how it is stored and distributed at depth within incoming plates exists for any segment of the global subduction system. Here we use seismic data to quantify the amount of pore and structurally bound water in the Juan de Fuca plate entering the Cascadia subduction zone. Specifically, we analyse these water reservoirs in the sediments, crust and lithospheric mantle, and their variations along the central Cascadia margin. We find that the Juan de Fuca lower crust and mantle are drier than at any other subducting plate, with most of the water stored in the sediments and upper crust. Variable but limited bend faulting along the margin limits slab access to water, and a warm thermal structure resulting from a thick sediment cover and young plate age prevents significant serpentinization of the mantle. The dryness of the lower crust and mantle indicates that fluids that facilitate episodic tremor and slip must be sourced from the subducted upper crust, and that decompression rather than hydrous melting must dominate arc magmatism in central Cascadia. Additionally, dry subducted lower crust and mantle can explain the low levels of intermediate-depth seismicity in the Juan de Fuca slab.
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This research was funded by the US NSF. We thank the RV M.G. Langseth’s and RV Oceanus’ captains, crews, and technical staffs, and the US Ocean Bottom Seismograph Instrument Pool (OBSIP) managers and technical staff for their efforts, which made possible the success of cruises MGL1211 and OC1206A. We thank K. Wang for his review, which improved the manuscript.
The authors declare no competing financial interests.
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Canales, J., Carbotte, S., Nedimović, M. et al. Dry Juan de Fuca slab revealed by quantification of water entering Cascadia subduction zone. Nature Geosci 10, 864–870 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1038/ngeo3050
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