Recent contribution of sediments and fluids to the mantle's volatile budget

Simon Turner*, John Caulfield, Michael Turner, Peter Van Keken, René Maury, Mike Sandiford, Gaelle Prouteau

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    52 Citations (Scopus)


    Subduction modifies the cycling of Earth's volatile elements. Fluid-rich sediments and hydrated oceanic lithosphere enter the convecting mantle at subduction zones. Some of the sediments and volatile components are released from the subducting slab, promote mantle melting and are returned to the surface by volcanism. The remainder continue into the deeper mantle. Quantification of the fate of these volatiles requires an understanding of both the nature and timing of fluid release and mantle melting. Here we analyse the trace element and isotopic geochemistry of fragments of upper mantle rocks that were transported to the surface by volcanic eruptions above the Batan Island subduction zone, Philippines. We find that the mantle fragments exhibit extreme disequilibrium between their U- Th- Ra isotopic ratios, which we interpret to result from the interaction of wet sediment melts and slab-derived fluids with rocks in the overlying mantle wedge. We infer that wet sediments were delivered from the slab to the mantle wedge between 8,000 and 10,000 years ago, whereas aqueous fluids were delivered separately much later. We estimate that about 625ppm of water is retained in the wedge. A significant volume of water could therefore be delivered to the mantle transition zone at the base of the upper mantle, or even to the deeper mantle.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)50-54
    Number of pages5
    JournalNature Geoscience
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - Jan 2012


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