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Decoupling of inorganic and organic carbon during slab mantle devolatilisation

Bouilhol, P. and Debret, B. and Inglis, E. C. and Warembourg, M. and Grocolas, T. and Rigaudier, T. and Villeneuve, J. and Burton, K. W. (2022) 'Decoupling of inorganic and organic carbon during slab mantle devolatilisation.', Nature Communications, 13 (1). p. 308.


Serpentinites are an important sink for both inorganic and organic carbon, and their behavior during subduction is thought to play a fundamental role in the global cycling of carbon. Here we show that fluid-derived veins are preserved within the Zermatt-Saas ultra-high pressure serpentinites providing key evidence for carbonate mobility during serpentinite devolatilisation. We show through the O, C, and Sr isotope analyses of vein minerals and the host serpentinites that about 90% of the meta-serpentinite inorganic carbon is remobilized during slab devolatilisation. In contrast, graphite-like carbonaceous compounds remain trapped within the host rock as inclusions within metamorphic olivine while the bulk elemental and isotope composition of organic carbon remains relatively unchanged during the subduction process. This shows a decoupling behavior of carbon during serpentinite dehydration in subduction zones. This process will therefore facilitate the transfer of inorganic carbon to the mantle wedge and the preferential slab sequestration of organic carbon en route to the deep mantle.

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Publisher statement:This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder.
Date accepted:10 December 2021
Date deposited:18 February 2022
Date of first online publication:14 January 2022
Date first made open access:18 February 2022

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