Depth variation of carbon and oxygen isotopes of calcites in Archean altered upperoceanic crust: Implications for the CO 2 flux from ocean to oceanic crust in the Archean

Takazo Shibuya, Miyuki Tahata, Kouki Kitajima, Yuichiro Ueno, Tsuyoshi Komiya, Shinji Yamamoto, Motoko Igisu, Masaru Terabayashi, Yusuke Sawaki, Ken Takai, Naohiro Yoshida, Shigenori Maruyama

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    30 Citations (Scopus)


    Middle Archean greenstones with mid-ocean ridge basalt affinity and overlying bedded chert/banded iron formation (BIF) are exposed in the Cleaverville area, Pilbara Craton, Western Australia. On the basis of the hydrothermal carbonation of these Cleaverville greenstones, we estimated the potential CO 2 flux from ocean to oceanic crust and the physical-chemical conditions of the subseafloor hydrothermal system for the middle Archean. The greenstones exhibit various extents of carbonation, and the igneous minerals contained in the greenstones are partly or completely replaced by calcite and other secondary minerals. The degreeof carbonation correlates with stratigraphy; the volume concentration of calcite in greenstones decreaseswith increasing depth below the chert/BIF horizon. Our results clearly indicate that the hydrothermal carbonation occurred along the axial zones of a middle Archean mid-ocean ridge. Both δ 13C and δ 18O values of calcite also change with the depth below the chert/BIF horizon. The δ 18O value of calcite decreases with increasing depth, reflecting increasing temperature, while the δ 13C value of calcite changes from positive to negative stratigraphically downward. A model reconstructing the δ 13C of calcite suggests that the observed isotopic variation reflects the thermal structure and that the carbon source for calcite was derived from seawater. These mineralogical, geochemical, and geological features of calcite provide the amount of CO 2 in the whole oceanic crust per seafloor unit area (1.2×10 7mol/m 2). Based on this value, CO 2 flux from the ocean to the oceanic crust in the middle Archean can be estimated to be 1.5×10 14mol/yr when the spreading rate (m 2/yr) of Archean oceanic crust is assumed to have been three times higher than it is today. The estimated CO 2 flux into the oceanic crust is two orders of magnitude higher than the modern value, which points to the significance of sea-floor hydrothermal carbonation in the Archean carbon cycle.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)64-73
    Number of pages10
    JournalEarth and Planetary Science Letters
    Publication statusPublished - Mar 1 2012


    • Archean
    • CO flux
    • Carbon and oxygen isotopes
    • Hydrothermal carbonation
    • Oceanic crust
    • Seawater composition

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Geophysics
    • Geochemistry and Petrology
    • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
    • Space and Planetary Science


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