The Subduction Factory

June 6-8, 1998 – La Jolla, California
Convener: Julie Morris


Subduction of oceanic plates causes earthquakes, tsunamis, and explosive volcanism. It also gives rise to beneficial products, such as ore deposits, geothermal energy, and the ground we live on. The “subduction factory” recycles raw materials from the subducting seafloor and overlying mantle, and creates products on the upper plate in the form of melts, aqueous fluids and gases. Convergent margin processes have profound scientific and societal consequences, and a Subduction Factory Workshop was convened to develop plans to tackle the most important research.

The workshop mandate was to build and identify community consensus for scientifically and geographically focused interdisciplinary studies of the subduction factory. The workshop participants recognized three themes as tractable and essential:

  • The role of subduction parameters (e.g., slab and mantle temperature, convergence rate, subduction dynamics, and mass transport to depth) as forcing functions in regulating chemical cycling and crustal growth.
  • The volatile cycle through subduction zones and its impact on physical, chemical and biological processes from the trench to the back-arc.
  • Mass balance and continental growth in the middle and lower arch lithosphere and as understood through experimental studies.

JOI/USSAC Newsletter Article (pdf)

Julie Morris, Washington University in St. Louis