What is the Subduction Factory?

Subduction of oceanic plates causes earthquakes, tsunamis and explosive volcanism. Subduction also gives rise to beneficial products, such as ore deposits, geothermal energy and the very ground we live on. The Subduction Factory recycles raw materials from the seafloor and underlying mantle, creates products on the upper plate in the form of melts, aqueous fluids and gases, and modulates the dynamics of plate tectonics. The Subduction Factory Initiative (SubFac) aims to study fluxes through the subduction zone to address three fundamental science themes:

  1. How do forcing functions such as convergence rate and upper plate thickness regulate production of magma and fluid from the Subduction Factory?
  2. How does the volatile cycle (H2O and CO2) impact chemical, physical and biological processes from trench to deep mantle?
  3. What is the mass balance of chemical species and material across the Subduction Factory, and how does this balance affect continental growth and evolution?

These themes will be addressed by focused investigations on active subduction Zones. The Central American and Izu-Bonin-Mariana (IBM) subduction systems were selected for focussed study by the geoscientific community during a series of open meetings based on the following criteria: ample volcanic and seismic activity, accessibility to both input and output, along-strike variations in forcing functions, cross-arc and historical perspectives, minimal upper plate contamination of magmas, and ability to address the primary science objectives, and because they have contrasting tectonic and chemical characteristics, allowing different forcing functions to be investigated and modelled.

North Lau/Tonga Rapid Response - May 2009

SF Nuggets from 2009 Review Documents: Nuggets are available online!

SubFac web pages:

Focus Areas: Central America
Costa Rica-Nicaragua Focus Area Map
  Izu-Bonin-Mariana Focus Area Map
Meetings: Volatiles Theoretical and Experimental Institute Mt. Hood, OR, 2009
  MARGINS-EarthScope Cascadia Amphibious Facility Planning Group Palisades, NY, 2009
  Subduction Factory Studies in the Izu-Bonin-Mariana Arc System. Hawaii, 2007
Meeting pages contain abstracts, bibliographies, presentations, lecture notes and much more information. Subduction Factory and Seismogenic Zone Studies in Central America. Costa Rica, 2007
Mini-Workshop at AGU 2006: "MARGINS Interdisciplinary Mini-Workshop on the Izu-Bonin-Marianas Subduction Factory Focus Site"
IBM 2002 workshop, Honolulu, September 2002
Inside the Subduction Factory TEI, Eugene, August 2000
SubFac workshop, La Jolla, CA, July 1998
Documents: Subduction Factory Science Plan
  Cascadia Amphibious Facility Planning Group report (July, 2009)
  NSF-funded SubFac awards
US-Japan collaborative seismics Mariana proposal
SubFac Eugene TEI proposal
  Margins Volcanoes Field Trip July 2001 Nicaragua (916 kB PDF file)
  Tectonics and magma evolution of Nicaraguan volcanic systems (excerpt, 1 MB PDF file)
Graphics: MARGINS Presentation materials
  Earthquake maps and cross-sections
Links: North Lau/Tonga Rapid Response (May 2009)
Report on 5 April 2005 Anatahan eruption
  Report on NSF-MARGINS Expedition to Anatahan Volcano, March 2005
  GERM subduction-zone flux pages
  Anatahan Eruption, May 2003
  Submarine Ring of Fire 2004 - Mariana Arc - March 27 - April 18, 2004
  Volcano Expedition to the Marianas Islands
  Expedition to northern Tonga arc & backarc
  Improving Geophysical Observations in Cascadia

Please feel free to suggest additions to these pages!
E-mail suggestions to the MARGINS Office.

Subduction Factory

MARGINS is an NSF funded program

The MARGINS Office is Hosted by Columbia University

Last updated Friday, February 12, 2010