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Durham University

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Macpherson, C.G., Hilton, D.R. & Hammerschmidt, K. (2010). No slab-derived CO2 in Mariana Trough back-arc basalts: Implications for carbon subduction and for temporary storage of CO2 beneath slow spreading ridges. Geochemistry Geophysics Geosystems 11: Q11007.

Author(s) from Durham


The Southern Mariana Trough is particularly well suited to study mass balance in subduction zones because the flux of material recycled from the subducted slab has been shown to diminish to negligible levels in the southernmost part of the area. We present new He and Ar concentration and isotopic data for 16 back-arc basaltic glasses and combine these with previously published CO2 and H2O concentration and δ13C data to explore the recycling of carbon and light noble gases in the Mariana back arc. Degassing has affected all samples and is particularly extensive in more water-rich samples, i.e., those containing the largest recycled component. The degassing history features three stages: (1) deep degassing which commenced when the melt reached saturation of CO2 and noble gases in the mantle, (2) preeruptive degassing during storage in the crust-mantle transition zone which involved addition of extraneous CO2 to the vapor phase, and (3) eruption. CO2 released during stage 1 was, at least partially, incorporated into wall rock and subsequently remobilized during stage 2 degassing of later magma batches. Reconstructed parental values for 3He/4He, δ13C, CO2/3He, and CO2/40Ar* are indistinguishable from those of mid-ocean ridge basalt. This implies that there is negligible recycling of subducted carbon, helium, or argon into the source of Mariana Trough basalt.