Dolomite-bearing orogenic garnet peridotites witness fluid-mediated carbon recycling in a mantle wedge (Ulten Zone, Eastern Alps, Italy)

Giovanna T. Sapienza, Marco Scambelluri, Roberto Braga*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Citations (Scopus)


We document the presence of dolomite ± apatite in orogenic peridotites from the Ulten Zone (UZ, Italian Alps), the remnants of a Variscan mantle wedge tectonically coupled with eclogitized continental crust. These dolomite peridotites are associated with dominant carbonate-free amphibole peridotites, which formed in response to infiltration of aqueous subduction fluids lost by the associated crustal rocks during high-pressure (HP) metamorphism and retrogression. Dolomite-free and dolomite-bearing peridotites share the same metamorphic evolution, from garnet-(HP) to spinel-facies (low-pressure, LP) conditions. Dolomite and the texturally coexisting phases display equilibrium redistribution of rare earth elements and of incompatible trace elements during HP and LP metamorphism; clinopyroxene and amphiboles from carbonate-free and carbonate-bearing peridotites have quite similar compositions. These features indicate that the UZ mantle rocks equilibrated with the same metasomatic agents: aqueous CO2-bearing fluids enriched in incompatible elements released by the crust. The P-T crystallization conditions of the dolomite peridotites (outside the field of carbonatite melt + amphibole peridotite coexistence), a lack of textures indicating quench of carbonic melts, a lack of increase in modal clinopyroxene by reaction with such melts and the observed amphibole increase at the expense of clinopyroxene, all suggest that dolomite formation was assisted by aqueous CO2-bearing fluids. A comparison of the trace element compositions of carbonates and amphiboles from the UZ peridotites and from peridotites metasomatized by carbonatite and/or carbon-bearing silicate melts does not help to unambiguously discriminate between the different agents (fluids or melts). The few observed differences (lower trace element contents in the fluid-related dolomite) may ultimately depend on the solute content of the metasomatic agent (CO2 -bearing fluid versus carbonatite melt). This study provides strong evidence that C-O-H subduction fluids can produce 'carbonatite-like' assemblages in mantle rocks, thus being effective C carriers from the slab to the mantle wedge at relatively low P-T. If transported beyond the carbonate and amphibole solidus by further subduction, dolomite-bearing garnet + amphibole peridotites like the ones from Ulten can become sources of carbonatite and/or C-bearing silicate melts in the mantle wedge.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)401-420
Number of pages20
JournalContributions to Mineralogy and Petrology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • C-O-H fluid
  • Dolomite-bearing peridotites
  • Mantle wedge
  • Subduction fluids
  • Ulten Zone

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