CO2 content beneath northern Iceland and the variability of mantle carbon

26 Feb 2018

Primitive basalt melt inclusions from Borgarhraun, northern Iceland, display large correlated variations in CO2 and non-volatile incompatible trace elements (ITEs) such as Nb, Th, Rb, and Ba. The average CO2/ITE ratios of the Borgarhraun melt inclusion population are precisely determined (e.g., CO2/Nb = 391 ± 16; 2M, n = 161). These data, along with published data on five other populations of undegassed MORB glasses and melt inclusions, demonstrate that upper mantle CO2/Ba and CO2/Rb are nearly homogenous, while CO2/Nb and CO2/Th are broadly correlated with long-term indices of mantle heterogeneity reflected in Nd isotopes (143Nd/144Nd) in five out of the six regions of the upper mantle examined thus far. Our results suggest that heterogeneous carbon contents of the upper mantle are long-lived features, and that average carbon abundances of the mantle sources of Atlantic mid-ocean ridge basalts (MORB) are higher by a factor of two than those of Pacific MORB. This observation is correlated with a similar distinction in water contents (Michael, 1995) and trace elements characteristic of subduction fluids (Ba, Rb; Arevalo and McDonough, 2010). We suggest that the upper mantle beneath the younger Atlantic Ocean basin contains components of hydrated and carbonated subduction-modified mantle from prior episodes of Iapetus subduction that were entrained and mixed into the upper mantle during opening of the Atlantic Ocean basin.