Experimental Constraints on CO2 Solubility in Rhyolitic Slab Melts – Implications for Carbon Flux in Subduction Zone

Monday, 15 December 2014
Megan S Duncan and Rajdeep Dasgupta, Rice University, Houston, TX, United States
Understanding the fate of carbon in subduction zones is critical to understand carbon cycle on a global scale. The amount of carbonate and reduced (organic) carbon that is subducted and the amount of CO2 that is released from arc volcanoes vary for subduction zones around the globe. If the agent of carbon transfer from slab to sub-arc mantle is a partial melt of either ocean-floor sediments [1] or hydrous basalt [2], we need to know the solubility of CO2 in rhyolitic slab melt to constrain the flux of carbon in subduction zones.

Our previous experiments have constrained CO2 content in silicic slab melts as a function of P (1.5-3.0 GPa) and melt H2O content (0.5-3.0 wt.%) [3]. Here we extend our experiments to constrain the effect of temperature (1100-1400 °C) and fO2 (CO2 vapor-saturated [3] and graphite-saturated) on CO2 solubility and speciation in natural rhyolitic melts. From our data, we constructed empirical and thermodynamic models to calculate CO2 content in slab melts at P and T appropriate for the sub-arc region of the subducting slab at variable fO2 [4]. These experiments and models show that CO2 solubility increases with increasing P, fO2, and melt H2O contents to ~3.5 wt.%, while there is a only slight increase in CO2 solubility with increasing T though the effect is much smaller.

Our study constrains the extent of C-cycling to the deep interior and to the arc source for graphite-saturated domains of the downgoing crust. Further, there is a general correspondence between CO2 solubility in slab-derived, rhyolitic melts at sub-arc depth with measured CO2 outflux at arcs [5]. For hotter slabs (T>800 °C) the calculated CO2 contents using our thermodynamic model, for example, are 1.5-3.4 wt.% for a low-H2O melt generated near the FMQ buffer and correspond to arc fluxes of 50-500 × 109 mol/yr. For colder slabs (T<800 °C) the calculated CO2 contents are 0.9-1.6 wt.% for a low-H2O melt generated near the FMQ buffer and correspond to arc fluxes of 0.1-15 ×1 09 mol/yr. This correspondence suggests that slab-derived silicic melt may be the chief agent of C-transport from slab to mantle wedge.

[1] Plank and Langmuir (1993) Nature, 362, 739-743; [2] Prouteau et al. (2001) Nature, 410, 197-200; [3] Duncan and Dasgupta. (2014) GCA, 124, 328-347; [4] Syracuse et al. (2010) PEPI, 183, 73-90; [5] Fischer et al. (2008) Geochem. J., 42, 21-38.