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Subduction zones are major sites of magmatism on the Earth. Dehydration processes and associated element transport, which take place in both the subducting lithosphere and the down-dragged hydrated peridotite layer at the base of the mantle wedge, are largely responsible for the following characteristics common to most subduction zones: (1) the presence of dual volcanic chains within a single volcanic arc; (2) the negative correlation between the volcanic arc width and the subduction angle; (3) selective enrichment of particular incompatible trace elements; and (4) systematic across-arc variations in incompatible trace element concentrations. The occurrence of two types of andesites, calcalkalic and tholeiitic, typifies magmatism in subduction zones. Examination of geochemical characteristics of those andesites in the NE Japan arc and bulk continental crust reveals marked compositional similarity between calc-alkalic andesites and continental crust. One of the principal mechanisms of generation of calc-alkalic andesites, at least those on the NE Japan arc, is the mixing of two magmas, having basaltic and felsic compositions and being derived from partial melting of the mantle and the overriding basaltic crust, respectively. It may be thus suggested that this process would also have contributed greatly to continental crust formation. If this is the case, then the melting residue after extraction of felsic melts should be removed and delaminated from the initial crust into the mantle in order to form ‘andesitic’ crust compositions. These processes cause accumulation in the deep mantle of residual materials, such as delaminated crust materials and dehydrated, compositionally modified subducted oceanic crusts and sediments. Geochemical modelling suggests that such residual components have evolved to form enriched mantle reservoirs.

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