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Title: Slab-derived devolatilization fluids oxidized by subducted metasedimentary rocks
Abstract Metamorphic devolatilization of subducted slabs generates aqueous fluids that ascend into the mantle wedge, driving the partial melting that produces arc magmas. These magmas have oxygen fugacities some 10–1,000 times higher than magmas generated at mid-ocean ridges. Whether this oxidized magmatic character is imparted by slab fluids or is acquired during ascent and interaction with the surrounding mantle or crust is debated. Here we study the petrology of metasedimentary rocks from two Tertiary Aegean subduction complexes in combination with reactive transport modelling to investigate the oxidative potential of the sedimentary rocks that cover slabs. We find that the metasedimentary rocks preserve evidence for fluid-mediated redox reactions and could be highly oxidized. Furthermore, the modelling demonstrates that layers of these oxidized rocks less than about 200 m thick have the capacity to oxidize the ascending slab dehydration flux via redox reactions that remove H 2 , CH 4 and/or H 2 S from the fluids. These fluids can then oxidize the overlying mantle wedge at rates comparable to arc magma generation rates, primarily via reactions involving sulfur species. Oxidized metasedimentary rocks need not generate large amounts of fluid themselves but could instead oxidize slab dehydration fluids ascending through them. Proposed Phanerozoic more » increases in arc magma oxygen fugacity may reflect the recycling of oxidative weathering products following Neoproterozoic–Palaeozoic marine and atmospheric oxygenation. « less
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Publication Date:
Journal Name:
Nature Geoscience
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
320 to 326
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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  3. Abstract

    Sulfur belongs among H2O, CO2, and Cl as one of the key volatiles in Earth’s chemical cycles. High oxygen fugacity, sulfur concentration, and δ34S values in volcanic arc rocks have been attributed to significant sulfate addition by slab fluids. However, sulfur speciation, flux, and isotope composition in slab-dehydrated fluids remain unclear. Here, we use high-pressure rocks and enclosed veins to provide direct constraints on subduction zone sulfur recycling for a typical oceanic lithosphere. Textural and thermodynamic evidence indicates the predominance of reduced sulfur species in slab fluids; those derived from metasediments, altered oceanic crust, and serpentinite have δ34S values of approximately −8‰, −1‰, and +8‰, respectively. Mass-balance calculations demonstrate that 6.4% (up to 20% maximum) of total subducted sulfur is released between 30–230 km depth, and the predominant sulfur loss takes place at 70–100 km with a net δ34S composition of −2.5 ± 3‰. We conclude that modest slab-to-wedge sulfur transport occurs, but that slab-derived fluids provide negligible sulfate to oxidize the sub-arc mantle and cannot deliver34S-enriched sulfur to produce the positive δ34S signature in arc settings. Most sulfur has negative δ34S and is subducted into the deep mantle, which could cause a long-term increase in the δ34S of Earth surface reservoirs.

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