Fluxes of mantle and subducted carbon along convergent plate boundaries

TitleFluxes of mantle and subducted carbon along convergent plate boundaries
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1996
AuthorsSano, Y, Williams, SN
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Date PublishedOct 1
Accession NumberWOS:A1996VL37000009

The potential impact of increases in atmospheric CO2 is a topic of considerable controversy. Even though volcanic emission of CO2 may be very small as compared to anthropogenic emissions, evaluation of natural degassing of CO2 is important for any model of the geochemical C cycle and evolution of the Earth's atmosphere. We report here the mantle C flux in subduction zones based on He and C isotopes and CO2/He-3 ratios of high-temperature volcanic gases and medium- and low-temperature fumaroles in circum-Pacific volcanic regions. The calculated volcanic C flux of 3.1x10(12) mol/a from subduction zones is larger than the flux of 1.5x10(12) mol/a from mid-ocean ridges, while contributions from the mantle in subduction zone is only 0.30x10(12) mol/a, equivalent to about 20% of the C flux in mid-ocean ridges. Since the estimated mantle C flux in hot spot regions is insignificant, 0.029x10(12) mol/a, we propose that the global mantle C flux is 1.8x10(12) mol/a in total. The flux, if accumulated over 4.5 billion year of geological time, amounts to 8.3x10(21) mol which agrees well with 9x10(21) mol of the present inventory of C at the Earth's surface. This may support a continuous degassing model of C or the idea that subducted C is recycled into the lower mantle.