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Remobilization of sedimentary carbonate in subduction zones modulates arc volcanism emissions and thus Earth’s climate over geological timescales. Although limestones (or chalk) are thought to be the major carbon reservoir subducted to subarc depths, their fate is still unclear. Here we present high-pressure reaction experiments between impure limestone (7.4 wt.% clay) and dunite at 1.3–2.7 GPa to constrain the melting behaviour of subducted natural limestone in contact with peridotite. The results show that although clay impurities significantly depress the solidus of limestone, melting will not occur whilst limestones are still part of the subducting slab. Buoyancy calculations suggest that most of these limestones would form solid-state diapirs intruding into the mantle wedge, resulting in limited carbon flux to the deep mantle (< ~10 Mt C y−1). Less than 20% melting within the mantle wedge indicates that most limestones remain stable and are stored in subarc lithosphere, resulting in massive carbon storage in convergent margins considering their high carbon flux (~21.4 Mt C y−1). Assimilation and outgassing of these carbonates during arc magma ascent may dominate the carbon flux in volcanic arcs.
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1/01/19 → 31/12/24