Although plate tectonics provides a general framework for understanding the distribution of volcanism over the Earth's surface, many important aspects are poorly understood. Probably the best understood volcanism occurs at midÂ ocean ridges. As the surface plates diverge or spread, hot mantle rock ascends to fill the gap. Pressure-release melting occurs, which produces a basaltic magma (Verhoogen 1954, Green & Ringwood 1967, Oxburgh & Turcotte 1968a). This magma migrates to the surface because of the buoyancy forces associated with the magma's lower density. The basaltic magma solidifies to form the oceanic crust. Since the general framework for volcanism at ocean ridges is reasonably well understood, the processes of magma migration can probably be best studied in this environment. Extensive volcanism is also associated with subduction zones. Linear chains of volcanoes lie parallel to many ocean trenches. The generation of magmas at ocean trenches is still a subject of considerable controversy. The volcanic lines appear to be closely associated with the descending lithosphere. The volcanoes generally lie about 150 kIn above the Benioff zone defined by earthquakes believed to occur within the descending lithosphere. Offsets in the volcanic line lie above breaks in the descending lithosphere. Alternative models have
Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences – Annual Reviews
Published: May 1, 1982
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