Skip to Main content Skip to Navigation

Carbonate Transfer during the Onset of Slab Devolatilization: New Insights from Fe and Zn Stable Isotopes

Abstract : Long-term carbon cycling is a subject of recent controversy as new mass balance calculations suggest that most carbon is transferred from the slab to the mantle wedge by fluids during subduction, limiting the efficiency of carbon recycling to the deep mantle. Here, we examine the large scale mobility of carbon during subduction using new isotopic tracers sensitive to H–C–O–S–Cl fluids, namely iron and zinc stable isotopes, in samples interpreted to represent residual slab (Queyras, Western Alps) and sub-arc mantle (Kohistan, Himalaya). We show that during subduction there are several stages of carbonate precipitation and dissolution at metasomatic interfaces between metasedimentary and ultramafic rocks in the slab. During the early stages of subduction, before the slab reaches the 300–400C isotherms, the infiltration of sediment-derived fluids into ultramafic lithologies enhances carbonate precipitation in antigorite-bearing serpentinites. Carbonate storage in serpentinites, therefore, acts as a temporary reservoir of carbon in subduction zones. This episode is accompanied by a decrease in serpentinite iron isotope composition (d56Fe), due to interaction with low-d56Fe sediment-derived fluids, and an increase in the concentrations of fluid-mobile elements (e.g. B, Li, As). At higher temperatures (>400C), carbonate is leached from the serpentinites by fluids. This is accompanied by a decrease in serpentinite zinc isotope composition (d66Zn) which we interpret as the release of a carbonate-bearing fluid with an isotopically heavy d66Zn signature. Thermodynamic modelling shows that the sudden change in fluid carbon mobility is due to a decrease in the aCO2 of the fluids released during slab prograde metamorphism, which shifts from sediment- to serpentinite-dominated dehydration. This demonstrates that slab fluids bearing oxidized carbon (e.g. CO2), associated with isotopically light Fe, heavy Zn and fluid-mobile elements, can be released before the slab reaches eclogite facies P-T conditions. These observations provide strong evidence for the mobility of carbon in fluids during the early stages of subduction. Moreover, the fluids released will act as a potential metasomatic agent for the fore-arc mantle (or slab/mantle interface). The observation of carbonate-bearing metamorphic veins in the Himalayan sub-arc mantle with complementary light d56Fe and heavy d66Zn signatures provides further support for the large scale transfer of both sulphate- and carbonate-bearing fluids during the early stages of subduction. This suggests that the fore-arc may have an important role in delivering water, sulfur and carbon to the source of arc-magmas.
Document type :
Journal articles
Complete list of metadatas
Contributor : Sylvaine Jouhannel <>
Submitted on : Monday, August 27, 2018 - 11:46:35 AM
Last modification on : Wednesday, March 4, 2020 - 12:12:02 PM

Links full text



P Debret, M Bouilhol, M. Pons, H Williams. Carbonate Transfer during the Onset of Slab Devolatilization: New Insights from Fe and Zn Stable Isotopes. Journal of Petrology, Oxford University Press (OUP), 2018, ⟨10.1093/petrology/egy057⟩. ⟨hal-01862316⟩



Record views