Advent of continents: A new hypothesis
© The Author(s) 2016. The straightforward but unexpected relationship presented here relates crustal thickness to magma type in the Izu-Ogasawara (Bonin) and Aleutian oceanic arcs. Volcanoes along the southern segment of the Izu-Ogasawara arc and the western Aleutian arc (west of Adak) are underlain by thin crust (10-20 km). In contrast those along the northern segment of the Izu-Ogasawara arc and eastern Aleutian arc are underlain by crust ∼35 km thick. Interestingly, andesite magmas dominate eruptive products from the former volcanoes and mostly basaltic lavas erupt from the latter. According to the hypothesis presented here, rising mantle diapirs stall near the base of the oceanic crust at depths controlled by the thickness of the overlying crust. Where the crust is thin, melting occurs at relatively low pressures in the mantle wedge producing andesitic magmas. Where the crust is thick, melting pressures are higher and only basaltic magmas tend to be produced. The implications of this hypothesis are: (1) the rate of continental crust accumulation, which is andesitic in composition, would have been greatest soon after subduction initiated on Earth, when most crust was thin; and (2) most andesite magmas erupted on continental crust could be recycled from "primary" andesite originally produced in oceanic arcs.