Generation of new continental crust by sublithospheric silicic-magma relamination in arcs: A test of Taylor's andesite model

Antonio Castro, Katharina Vogt, Taras Gerya

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The paradox of the Earth's continental crust is that although this reservoir is generally regarded as having differentiated from the mantle, it has an andesitic bulk composition that contrasts with the intrinsic basaltic composition of mantle-derived melts. Classical models for new crust generation from the mantle in two-stage processes fail to account for two fundamental facts: the absence of ultramafic residues in the lower crust and the hot temperature of batholith magma generation. Other models based on the arrival of already-fractionated silicic magmas to the crust have not received the necessary attention. Addition of new crust by relamination from below of subducted materials has been formulated as a process complementary to delamination of mafic residues. Here we show important support to relamination from below the lithosphere as an important mechanism for new crust generation in magmatic arcs of active continental margins and mature intraoceanic arcs. The new support is based on three independent lines: (1) thermo-mechanical modeling of subduction zones, (2) experimental phase relations and melt compositions of subducted materials and (3) geochemical relations between mafic granulites (lower crust) and batholiths (upper crust). The mineral assemblage and bulk geochemistry of lower crust rocks are compared with solid residues left after granite melt segregation. The implication is that an andesite magma precursor is responsible for the generation of new continental crust at active continental margins and mature oceanic arcs. According to our numerical and laboratory experiments, melting and eventual reaction with the mantle of subducted oceanic crust and sediments produce the andesite magmas. These ascend in the form of mantle wedge diapirs and are finally attached (relaminated) to the continental crust, where they crystallize partially and produce the separation of the solid fraction to form mafic granulites (lower crust) and granitic (sl) liquids to form the batholiths (upper crust).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1554-1566
Number of pages13
JournalGondwana Research
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2013


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