Deep carbon cycle in subduction zones

Yongsheng Liu*, Chunfei Chen, Detao He, Wei Chen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


The carbon cycle between the deep Earth and the atmosphere (i.e., the deep carbon cycle) can significantly affect the global climate on both long and short time scales. Although carbon in the deep Earth can be released to the atmosphere in many ways, plate subduction is the only pathway for the return of carbon from the surface to the deep Earth. Owing to diversity in the forms of carbon and the special physicochemical property of carbonates, the behavior of carbon and carbonates in subduction zones significantly affects the products of subduction processes, the oxygen fugacity in subduction zones, and the activation and migration of elements during the crust-mantle interaction. Therefore, the carbon cycle in subduction zones plays an important role in maintaining a habitable climate by regulating the atmospheric CO2 concentration, which significantly affects the global climate, and in causing fundamental changes in the physical and chemical properties of the mantle that result in a heterogeneous mantle. In this study, we review and discuss previous studies and scientific problems regarding the carbon cycle in subduction zones from four aspects: observation and tracing of the carbon cycle, migration and variation of carbon during subduction, carbon flux, and the effect of the carbon cycle.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1764-1782
Number of pages19
JournalScience China Earth Sciences
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Subduction
  • Deep carbon cycle
  • Carbon flux
  • Carbonate
  • Carbonatite
  • Crust-mantle interaction
  • Global climate


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