Volcanic glasses contained in distal fallout tephras from the Izu arc volcanic front (Izu VF) provide unique perspectives on general problems of arc volcanism. Unlike cogenetic lavas, these glasses are liquid compositions where element concentrations as well as ratios have significance. Isotopic evidence and previous work show that there is no sediment melt contribution to the sources of the Izu VF tephras, and hence their trace element characteristics permit determination of the trace element contents of slab fluids. The slab fluid is a composite of metasediment (similar to5% of total fluid) and metabasalt (similar to95%) component fluids, and carries large ion lithophile elements (LILE) with high LILE/Th and LILE/U, and low Th and U relative to source. Except for Sr and K, the metabasalt fluid is much less enriched than the metasediment fluid, but its large relative proportions make it an important carrier of many trace elements. The metabasalt fluid has the characteristics of the arc trace element signature, obviating the need for ubiquitous involvement of sediment in arc magma genesis. The fluid component in the tephras is remarkably constant in composition over fifteen million years, and hence appears to be a robust composition that may be applicable to other convergent margins. Assuming that the metabasalt fluid is a common component, and that distribution coefficients between sediment and fluid are similar from one arc to another, composite fluid compositions can be estimated for other arcs. Differences from this composition then would likely result from a sediment melt component. Comparison to arcs with sediment melt components in their source (Marianas, eastern Aleutians) shows that partial sediment melts may be so enriched, that they can completely mask the signature of the comingling slab fluids. Hence sediment melts can easily dominate the trace element and isotopic signature of many convergent margins. Since sediment melts inherit the LILE/LILE ratios of the trench sediment, Earth's surface processes must eventually influence the compositional diversity of arcs.
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