Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

13C 12C exchange between calcite and graphite: A possible thermometer in Grenville marbles

January 1, 1981

The fractionation of 13C between calcite and graphite, Δ(Cc-Gr). is consistently small (2.6–4.8 permil) in 34 assemblages from upper amphibolite- and granulite-facies marbles of the Grenville Province. In 25 samples from the Adirondack Mountains, New York, it decreases regularly with increasing metamorphic temperature. The fractionations are independent of absolute δ13C values of calcite (−2.9 to +5.0). For T = 600–800°C, the Adirondack data are described by Δ(Cc-Gr) = −0.00748T (°C) + 8.68. This good correlation between Δ and T suggests that carbon isotope equilibrium was attained in these high-grade marbles and that the theoretical calculations of this fractionation by Bottinga are approximately 2 permil too large in this temperature range. Because of the relatively high temperature sensitivity suggested by these results and by Bottinga's calculations, and the pressure independence of isotope fractionation, Δ(Cc-Gr) may provide a very good thermometer for high-grade marbles.

Comparison of this field calibration for Δ(Cc-Gr) vs temperature with results from other terranes supports the utility of Δ(Cc-Gr) for geothermometry and suggests that graphite is much more sluggish to exchange than calcite, that exchange between calcite and graphite occurs at temperatures as low as 300°C, and that equilibrium may normally be attained only when peak metamorphic temperatures are greater than 500–600°C.

Because 13C exchange is an unavoidable metamorphic process at temperatures above 300°C, high values of δ13C(Gr) in moderate- to high-grade carbonate-bearing rocks do not provide a sufficient criterion to infer an abiogenic origin for the graphite.

Publication Year 1981
Title 13C 12C exchange between calcite and graphite: A possible thermometer in Grenville marbles
DOI 10.1016/0016-7037(81)90249-0
Authors J.W. Valley, J. R. O'Neil
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
Index ID 70011946
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse