Wehrlites from continental mantle monitor the passage and degassing of carbonated melts

S. Aulbach*, A. B. Lin, Y. Weiss, G. M. Yaxley

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Continental rifting has been linked to the thinning and destruction of cratonic lithosphere and to the release of enough CO2 to impact the global climate. This fundamental plate tectonic process facilitates the infiltration and mobilisation of smallvolume carbonated melts, which may interact with mantle peridotite to form wehrlite through the reaction: Enstatite dolomite (melt) = forsterite diopside CO2 (vapour). Application to mantle xenolith suites from various rifts and basins shows that 2.9 to 10.2 kg CO2 are released per 100 kg of wehrlite formed. For the Eastern Rift (Africa), this results in estimatedCO2 fluxes of 6.5 ± 4.1 Mt yr-1, similar to estimates of mantle contributions based on surficial CO2 surveys. Thus, wehrlite-bearing xenolith suites can be used to monitor present and past CO2 mobility through the continental lithosphere, ultimately with diffuse degassing to the atmosphere. They may also reveal the CO2 flux in lithospheric provinces where carbonated melts or continent-scale rifts are not observed at the surface.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)30-34
Number of pages5
JournalGeochemical Perspectives Letters
StatePublished - 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work and collaboration were stimulated by an invitation to SA and GMY to present at the Deep Carbon Observatory’s Deep Carbon 2019: Launching the Next Decade of Deep Carbon Science meeting in Washington DC (USA), and by an Alexander von Humboldt Fellowship to GMY, which we gratefully acknowledge. It was written while SA was funded through German Research Foundation fellowship AU356/11. We thank Shantanu Keshav, an anonymous referee as well as the editor, Ambre Luguet, for their very thorough reviews and incisive comments.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 The Authors.


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