Seismic evidence for a cold serpentinized mantle wedge beneath Mount St Helens

S. M. Hansen, B. Schmandt, A. Levander, E. Kiser, J. E. Vidale, G. A. Abers, K. C. Creager

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Mount St Helens is the most active volcano within the Cascade arc; however, its location is unusual because it lies 50 km west of the main axis of arc volcanism. Subduction zone thermal models indicate that the down-going slab is decoupled from the overriding mantle wedge beneath the forearc, resulting in a cold mantle wedge that is unlikely to generate melt. Consequently, the forearc location of Mount St Helens raises questions regarding the extent of the cold mantle wedge and the source region of melts that are responsible for volcanism. Here using, high-resolution active-source seismic data, we show that Mount St Helens sits atop a sharp lateral boundary in Moho reflectivity. Weak-to-absent PmP reflections to the west are attributed to serpentinite in the mantle-wedge, which requires a cold hydrated mantle wedge beneath Mount St Helens (<∼700 °C). These results suggest that the melt source region lies east towards Mount Adams.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number13242
JournalNature communications
StatePublished - Nov 1 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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