Temporal distribution of mantle-derived potassic rocks and carbonatites linked to stabilization of mantle lithosphere and redox states during subduction

    Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract


    Mantle-derived potassic igneous rocks and carbonatites first appear in the geological record in the late Archean, coinciding with major crust-forming events on most continents. The compositions of potassic rocks require sources including discrete ultramafic rocks with phlogopite and pyroxenes, whereas carbonatites and ultramafic lamprophyres (carbonate-rich potassic rocks) require oxidizing conditions in which carbonate is stable. The presence of these source rocks from this time is probably related to the stabilization of mantle lithosphere. If mantle lithosphere had not been stable for considerable periods of time, then melting would be restricted to peridotite, which is not a viable option for strongly potassic rocks. The phlogopite-rich source-rock assemblages that are necessary precursors for potassic melts could be introduced into the lithosphere by either subduction processes or by multiple stages of low-degree melting. Many modern examples involve subducted sedimentary material, which concentrates potassium by the stabilization of micas in subduction metamorphism. Subduction involves a great variety of redox states, but the bulk effect is the return of oxidized material from the surface into the mantle. However, we cannot apply uniformitarianism unthinkingly, because subduction processes at and before 2.7 Ga may have had different redox states. Before the Great Oxidation Event the distribution and abundances of geological formations such as banded iron formations, red beds, and uraninites indicate that geological reservoirs became gradually oxidized, preventing an earlier increase in atmospheric oxygen. This means that the function of the subduction process to oxidize the upper mantle by the return of oxidized rocks from the surface was much weaker in the early Earth. Early continental mantle lithosphere was, therefore, likely to accumulate carbon in reduced form, which would be more easily remobilized in melts through low-temperature redox melting much later in Earth history. Carbonate-rich alkaline rocks occur commonly during the rejuvenation of cratonic mantle, where carbonate melts tap carbon and mica-rich assemblages that may have slumbered in mantle lithosphere for extended periods of time.
    Original languageEnglish
    Number of pages1
    Publication statusPublished - 2014
    EventAmerican Geophysical Union Fall Meeting - San Francisco
    Duration: 15 Dec 201419 Dec 2014


    ConferenceAmerican Geophysical Union Fall Meeting
    CitySan Francisco


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