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Recycling of water, carbon, and sulfur during subduction of serpentinites: A stable isotope study of Cerro del Almirez, Spain

April 1, 2012

We use the concentrations and isotope compositions of water, carbon, and sulfur in serpentinites and their dehydration products to trace the cycling of volatiles during subduction. Antigorite serpentinites from the Cerro del Almirez complex, Spain, contain 9–12 wt.% H2O and 910 ± 730 ppm sulfur, and have bulk δ18O values of 8.6 ± 0.4‰, δD = − 54 ± 5‰, and δ34S = 5.0‰, consistent with serpentinization at temperatures of ~ 200 °C by seawater hydrothermal fluids in a seafloor setting. The serpentinites were dehydrated to chlorite–harzburgite (olivine + orthopyroxene + chlorite) at 700 °C and 1.6–1.9 GPa during subduction metamorphism, resulting in loss of water, and sulfur. The chlorite–harzburgites contain 5.7 ± 1.9 wt.% H2O, and have bulk δ18O = 8.0 ± 0.9‰, and δD = − 77 ± 11‰. The rocks contain 650 ± 620 ppm sulfur having δ34S = 1.2‰. Dehydration of serpentinite resulted in loss of 5 wt.% H2O having δ18O = 8–10‰ and δD = − 27 to − 65‰, and loss of 260 ppm sulfur as sulfate, having δ34S = 14.5‰. The contents and δ13C of total carbon in the two rock types overlap, with a broad trend of decreasing carbon contents and δ13C from ~ 1300 to 200 ppm and − 9.6 to − 20.2‰. This reflects mixing between reduced carbon in the rocks (210 ppm, δ13C ≈ − 26‰) and seawater-derived carbonate (δ13C ≈ − 1‰). Our results indicate: 1) Serpentinized oceanic peridotites carry significant amounts of isotopically fractionated water, carbon and sulfur into subduction zones; 2) Subduction of serpentinites to high P and T results in loss of water, and sulfur, which can induce melting and contribute to 18O, D, and 34S enrichments and oxidation of the sub-arc mantle wedge; and 3) Isotopically fractionated water, carbon, and sulfur in serpentinite dehydration products are recycled deeper into the mantle where they can contribute to isotope heterogeneities and may be significant for volatile budgets of the deep Earth.

Publication Year 2012
Title Recycling of water, carbon, and sulfur during subduction of serpentinites: A stable isotope study of Cerro del Almirez, Spain
DOI 10.1016/j.epsl.2012.01.029
Authors Jeffrey C. Alt, Carlos J. Garrido, Wayne C. Shanks, Alexandra Turchyn, José Alberto Padrón-Navarta, Vicente López Sánchez-Vizcaíno, María Teresa Gómez Pugnaire, Claudio Marchesi
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Earth and Planetary Science Letters
Index ID 70045226
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Central Mineral and Environmental Resources Science Center