Research Article

Deep Mantle Cycling of Oceanic Crust: Evidence from Diamonds and Their Mineral Inclusions

Science  07 Oct 2011:
Vol. 334, Issue 6052, pp. 54-57
DOI: 10.1126/science.1209300

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Abstract

A primary consequence of plate tectonics is that basaltic oceanic crust subducts with lithospheric slabs into the mantle. Seismological studies extend this process to the lower mantle, and geochemical observations indicate return of oceanic crust to the upper mantle in plumes. There has been no direct petrologic evidence, however, of the return of subducted oceanic crustal components from the lower mantle. We analyzed superdeep diamonds from Juina-5 kimberlite, Brazil, which host inclusions with compositions comprising the entire phase assemblage expected to crystallize from basalt under lower-mantle conditions. The inclusion mineralogies require exhumation from the lower to upper mantle. Because the diamond hosts have carbon isotope signatures consistent with surface-derived carbon, we conclude that the deep carbon cycle extends into the lower mantle.

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