Geographical distribution of 3He/4He ratios and seismic tomography in Japan

Yuji Sano, Junichi Nakajima

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Citations (Scopus)


The 3He/4He ratios (Ra) of natural gas, volcanic fluid, and groundwater are compiled in the Japanese Islands and their geographical distributions are discussed in the tectonic frame work of subduction zone together with precisely-determined seismic velocity structures. In Northeastern (NE) Japan where typical island arc signatures are developed, there is a clear contrast of 3He/4He ratios perpendicular to the trench axis, low-Ra in the frontal arc and high-Ra in the volcanic arc. This may reflect the presence or absence of magma with high-Ra in the shallow crust. As a carrier of primordial helium, source melt may be generated in low-V zone of the wedge mantle by dehydration of Pacific slab at about 150 km deep and may flow upward sub-parallel to the slab, which is well constrained by S-wave velocity perturbation. In the Chugoku and Shikoku districts of Southwestern (SW) Japan, there is a geographical contrast of Ra similar to NE Japan except for the region at about 100 km from the volcanic front where medium-Ra was found. High-Ra observed in volcanic arc of the Chugoku district may be attributable to the mantle helium derived from the magma source generated below the Philippine Sea slab. Medium-Ra in the Shikoku district is explained by dehydration of the young slab with a moderate aging effect. These features are again consistent with the results of seismic tomography. In the Kinki district of SW Japan, anomalously high-Ra was observed in the frontal arc region that was called by "Kinki Spot". Since the high-Ra is located at much wider region from the volcanic front when compared with NE Japan, the melt generated below the Philippine Sea slab may penetrate into the fissure of the slab tear and may arrive at the shallow crust by upwelling flow.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)51-60
Number of pages10
JournalGeochemical Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Arc magma
  • Geotectonics
  • Helium isotopes
  • Japanese islands
  • Seismic tomography

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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