Hydrogeology and mechanics of subduction zone forearcs: Fluid flow and pore pressure

Demian M. Saffer, Harold J. Tobin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

340 Scopus citations


At subduction zones, fluid flow, pore pressure, and tectonic processes are tightly interconnected. Excess pore pressure is driven by tectonic loading and fluids released by mineral dehydration, and it has profound effects on fault and earthquake mechanics through its control on effective stress. The egress of these overpressured fluids, which is in part governed by the presence of permeable fault zones, is a primary mechanism of volatile and solute transport to the oceans. Recent field measurements, new constraints gained from laboratory studies, and numerical modeling efforts have led to a greatly improved understanding of these coupled processes. Here, we summarize the current state of knowledge of fluid flow and pore pressure in subduction forearcs, and focus on recent advances that have quantified permeability architecture, fluxes, the nature and timing of transience, and pressure distribution, thus providing new insights into the connections between fluid, metamorphic, mechanical, and fault slip processes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)157-186
Number of pages30
JournalAnnual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences
StatePublished - May 30 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science


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