Element fluxes from the volcanic front of Nicaragua and Costa Rica

Michael J. Carr, Ian Saginor, Guillermo E. Alvarado, Louise L. Bolge, Fara N. Lindsay, Kathy Milidakis, Brent D. Turrin, Mark D. Feigenson, Carl C. Swisher

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96 Scopus citations


Geochronologic and geological data define a 600 ka age for the current volcanic front in Costa Rica. In Nicaragua, this age is less constrained but is likely within the range 600 ka to 330 ka. In Costa Rica, the new geochronologic data significantly improve estimates of the volumes of the volcanoes because they define the contact between the active volcanoes and the previous volcanic front, which is substantially older (2.2 to 1.0 Ma). In addition, the contrast in extrusive volcanic flux between western Nicaragua (1.3 × 10 10 kg/m/Myr) and central Costa Rica (2.4 × 1010 kg/m/Myr) is greatly reduced from previous estimates and now within the range of error estimates. We estimate the subducted component of flux for Cs, Rb, Ba, Th, U, K, La, Pb, and Sr by subtracting estimated mantle-derived contributions from the total element flux. An incompatible element-rich OIB source for the Cordillera Central segment in Costa Rica makes the subducted element flux there highly sensitive to small changes in the modeled mantle-derived contribution. For the other three segments studied, the estimated errors in concentrations of highly enriched, subductionderived elements (Cs, Ba, K, and Pb) are less than 26%. Averaged over the time of the current episode of volcanism, the subduction-derived fluxes of Cs, Ba, K, Pb, and Sr are not significantly different among the four segments of the Central American volcanic front in Nicaragua and Costa Rica. The subductionderived fluxes of Th and La appear to increase to the SE across Nicaragua and Costa Rica, but the estimated errors in their subduction-derived concentrations are very high, making this variation questionable. The lack of change in the fluxes of Cs, Ba, K, Pb, and Sr argues that the well-defined regional variation in Ba/La is the result of changes in the mode or mechanics of fluid delivery into the mantle wedge, not the total amounts of fluids released from the slab. Concentrated or focused fluids in Nicaragua lead to high degrees of melting. Diffuse fluids in Costa Rica cause lower degrees of melting.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberQ06001
JournalGeochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2007

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


  • Central America
  • Element flux
  • Extrusive volcanic flux
  • Geochemistry
  • Geochronology
  • Subduction

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