Abstract

Mount St. Helens, 50 km to the west of Mount Adams and the main Cascade volcanic chain, is only 80 km above the subducting oceanic lithosphere. The elevated temperatures off the subducting slab, because of the close proximity of the Juan de Fuca Ridge to the trench,may induce slab melting at a depth of ∼80 km. Dacites from Mount St. Helens have geochemical compositions off magmas that are derived by direct partial melting of metamorphosed basalts at high pressure, i.e., relatively high AI (Al2O3 > 15% at 70% SiO2), low Y and Yb (because of garnet and amphibole stability in the source), low Sc, and high Sr and Eu. Trace element modeling of the partial melting of mid-oceanic ridge basalt (MORB) from the Juan de Fuca Ridge that yields a hornblende eclogite residue can reproduce the Mount St. Helens data (results off the model are quite distinct from data derived from the Mount Adams volcanic rocks). In contrast, Mount Adams is ∼135 km above the subducting slab and is associated with normal arc magmatism believed to be derived from the mantle above the subducting plate. The Cascade are has been active in its present locality, because of oblique subduction, for the past 7 m.y. The major volcanoes along the arc have existed for at least 500 ka, but Mount St. Helens has existed for <40 ka. We suggest that the subducting plate may have reached elevated temperatures, because of the approach of North America to the Juan de Fuca Ridge, at ∼40 ka, which initiated melting of the slab.

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