Hydrous phase relations and trace element partitioning behaviour in calcareous sediments at subduction-zone conditions

Susanne Skora*, Jon D. Blundy, Richard A. Brooker, Eleanor C R Green, Jan C M de Hoog, James A D Connolly

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

45 Citations (Scopus)


We report the results of experiments on two natural marine sediments with different carbonate contents (calcareous clay: CO<inf>2</inf> = 6·1 wt %; marl: CO<inf>2</inf> = 16·2 wt %) at subduction-zone conditions (3 GPa, 750-1200°C). Water (7-15 wt %) was added to the starting materials to simulate the effects of external water addition from within the subducting slab. The onset of melting is at 760°C in water-rich experiments; melt becomes abundant by 800°C. In contrast, the onset of melting in published, water-poor experiments occurs at variable temperatures with the production of significant melt fractions being restricted to more than 900°C (phengite-out). The different solidus temperatures (T<inf>solidus</inf>) can be ascribed to variable fluid X<inf>H2O</inf> [H<inf>2</inf>O/(CO<inf>2</inf> + H<inf>2</inf>O)], which, in turn, depends on bulk K<inf>2</inf>O, H<inf>2</inf>O and CO<inf>2</inf>. Partial melts in equilibrium with residual garnet, carbonate, quartz/coesite, epidote, rutile, kyanite, phengite, and clinopyroxene are granitic in composition, with substantial dissolved volatiles. Supersolidus runs always contain both silicate melt and solute-rich fluid, indicating that experimental conditions lie below the second critical endpoint in the granite-H<inf>2</inf>O-CO<inf>2</inf> system. Carbonatite melt coexists with silicate melt and solute-rich fluid above 1100°C in the marl. The persistence of carbonate to high temperature, in equilibrium with CO<inf>2</inf>-rich hydrous melts, provides a mechanism to both supply CO<inf>2</inf> to arc magmas and recycle carbon into the deep Earth. The trace element compositions of the experimental glasses constrain the potential contribution of calcareous sediment to arc magmas. The presence of residual epidote and carbonate confers different trace element characteristics when compared with the trace element signal of Ca-poor marine sediments (e.g. pelagic clays). Notably, epidote retains Th and light rare earth elements, such that some melts derived from calcareous sediments have elevated Ba/Th and U/Th, and low La/SmPUM, thereby resembling fluids conventionally ascribed to altered oceanic crust. Our results emphasize the importance of residual mineralogy, rather than source lithology, in controlling the trace element characteristics of slab-derived fluids.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)953-980
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of Petrology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Carbon recycling
  • Carbon-bearing sediment
  • CO<inf>2</inf> solubility
  • Experimental petrology
  • Subduction


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