Low-δ13C carbonates in the Miocene basalt of the northern margin of the North China Craton: implications for deep carbon recycling

Huiting Zhang, Yongsheng Liu*, Zhaochu Hu, Keqing Zong, Haihong Chen, Chunfei Chen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Three types of carbonates have been found in the Miocene basalt in the Dongbahao area (Inner Mongolia), including wide veins and veinlets of carbonate in basalt and carbonates in peridotite xenoliths. Except for the dolomitic zonation in the basalt, all of the carbonates are calcite. Despite their different appearances, they share almost identical geochemical characteristics of low LILE (low large ion lithophile element), HFSE (high field strength element), and REE (rare earth elements) contents (ΣREE=0.51-137ppm); negative Ce anomalies; and low Ce/Pb ratios (0.51-74.5). Moreover, they show high δ18OSMOW values (20.95-22.61‰) and 87Sr/86Sr ratios (0.7087±0.0003 (1σ, n=17)). These characteristics indicate a sedimentary precursor for these carbonates. However, the occurrence and petrographic characteristics imply an igneous origin for the carbonates rather than a hypergene process. Further, the trace element compositions of the silicate melt and carbonate melt in the calcite-dolomite-silicate zonations fall on the same variation lines in the plots of Y-Ho, La-Yb, Li-Pb and Ba-Cu. It is suggested that these melts could have evolved from one magma system or could have been equilibrated. Given the partition coefficients of REEs and alkali elements (Cs, Rb, and K) between the carbonate melt and silicate melt, it can be inferred that these melts could have been formed from a primary H2O-Si-bearing Mg-Ca-carbonate melt by an immiscibility process at 1-3GPa. Considering the southward subduction of the Paleo-Asian ocean along the northern margin of the North China Craton (NCC), these carbonate melts could have been derived from the melting of subducted sedimentary carbonate rocks. Interestingly, these carbonates have quite depleted carbon isotopic compositions (δ13CPDB =-8.23‰ to -11.76‰) but moderate δ18OSMOW values, implying coupled H2O-CO2 degassing during subduction and/or recycling to the Earth's surface. Low-δ13CPBD carbonates appearing at the global scale may suggest an underestimated path of CO2 emission back to the atmosphere.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)110–125
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Asian Earth Sciences
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Carbonates
  • Deep carbon recycling
  • Degassing
  • Subducted sedimentary rocks


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