Arc magmatism is thought to be driven by peridotite melting in the mantle wedge. Yet pyroxenites are ubiquitous in the melting region beneath magmatic arcs. Because they typically have lower solidi temperatures and higher melt productivities compared to peridotite, pyroxenites likely play a significant role in magma generation. Here, we use the Zn/Fe ratios of a global database of Pliocene–Holocene primitive arc magmas to show that, as the crustal thickness of the overlying plate increases, so does the proportion of pyroxenite-derived melts relative to peridotite-derived melts. In fact, at arcs with crustal thicknesses >40 km, the majority of magmas are sourced from pyroxenite. Major and trace element geochemistry of pyroxenite melts is consistent with derivation from mafic magmas frozen in the mantle en route to the surface. We hypothesize that, as the thickness of the continental crust increases, the mantle wedge is displaced toward higher pressures and cooler temperatures, thereby lowering the extent of peridotite melting and allowing magmas sourced from the pyroxeniteveined mantle to dominate the arc budget.
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