EGU2020-14838, updated on 12 Jun 2020
EGU General Assembly 2020
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Tracing the global consumption of carbon at subduction zones over the last 230 million years

Ben Mather1, Dietmar Müller1, and Tobias Keller2
Ben Mather et al.
  • 1The University of Sydney, School of Geoscience, Sydney, Australia
  • 2The University of Glasgow, School of Geographical & Earth Science, Glasgow, UK

Chemical heterogeneities in the mantle are typically introduced by recycling oceanic lithosphere through subduction, which transports volatiles into the mantle. The provenance of volatiles, such as carbon, with the down-going plate is varied; here we show how the spatial distribution of carbon evolves through time with the motion of the tectonic plates. Carbon is sequestered at mid-ocean ridges, as new oceanic crust forms, and is transported similar to a conveyor belt until it is recycled at subduction zones. We budget the amount of carbon that has been recycled at subduction zones over the past 230 million years using a global plate reconstruction. The present-day distribution of in-plate carbon, taking into consideration the last 230 million years of plate influx, is predominantly distributed in the Atlantic. In contrast, most of the carbon that was sequestered in Pacific seafloor from 230 Ma has since been subducted. Therefore, it is likely that the carbon stored in Pacific seafloor has played an important role in stimulating volcanic activity along the Ring of Fire.

How to cite: Mather, B., Müller, D., and Keller, T.: Tracing the global consumption of carbon at subduction zones over the last 230 million years, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-14838,, 2020