Fluid migration in the mantle wedge: Influence of mineral grain size and mantle compaction

Nestor G. Cerpa, Ikuko Wada, Cian R. Wilson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Mineral grain size in the mantle affects fluid migration by controlling mantle permeability; the smaller the grain size, the less permeable the mantle is. Mantle shear viscosity also affects fluid migration by controlling compaction pressure; high mantle shear viscosity can act as a barrier to fluid flow. Here we investigate for the first time their combined effects on fluid migration in the mantle wedge of subduction zones over ranges of subduction parameters and patterns of fluid influx using a 2-D numerical fluid migration model. Our results show that fluids introduced into the mantle wedge beneath the forearc are first dragged downdip by the mantle flow due to small grain size (<1 mm) and high mantle shear viscosity that develop along the base of the mantle wedge. Increasing grain size with depth allows upward fluid migration out of the high shear viscosity layer at subarc depths. Fluids introduced into the mantle wedge at postarc depths migrate upward due to relatively large grain size in the deep mantle wedge, forming secondary fluid pathways behind the arc. Fluids that reach the shallow part of the mantle wedge spread trench-ward due to the combined effect of high mantle shear viscosity and advection by the inflowing mantle and eventually pond at 55–65 km depths. These results show that grain size and mantle shear viscosity together play an important role in focusing fluids beneath the arc.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6247-6268
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2017


  • arc volcanism
  • fluid migration
  • grain size
  • subduction modeling
  • subduction zone processes
  • two-phase flow modeling

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