Knowledge of the subduction input flux of nitrogen (N) in altered oceanic crust (AOC) is critical in any attempt to mass-balance N across arc-trench systems on a global or individual-margin basis. We have employed sealed-tube, carrier-gas-based methods to examine the N concentrations and isotopic compositions of AOC. Analyses of 53 AOC samples recovered on DSDP/ODP legs from the North and South Pacific, the North Atlantic, and the Antarctic oceans (with larger numbers of samples from Site 801 outboard of the Mariana trench and Site 1149 outboard of the Izu trench), and 14 composites for the AOC sections at Site 801, give N concentrations of 1.3 to 18.2 ppm and δ15NAir of -11.6‰ to +8.3‰, indicating significant N enrichment probably during the early stages of hydrothermal alteration of the oceanic basalts. The N-δ15N modeling for samples from Sites 801 and 1149 (n = 39) shows that the secondary N may come from (1) the sedimentary N in the intercalated sediments and possibly overlying sediments via fluid-sediment/rock interaction, and (2) degassed mantle N2 in seawater via alteration-related abiotic reduction processes. For all Site 801 samples, weak correlation of N and K2O contents indicates that the siting of N in potassic alteration phases strongly depends on N availability and is possibly influenced by highly heterogeneous temperature and redox conditions during hydrothermal alteration. The upper 470-m AOC recovered by ODP Legs 129 and 185 delivers approximately 8 × 105 g/km N annually into the Mariana margin. If the remaining less-altered oceanic crust (assuming 6.5 km, mostly dikes and gabbros) has MORB-like N of 1.5 ppm, the entire oceanic crust transfers 5.1 × 106 g/km N annually into that trench. This N input flux is twice as large as the annual N input of 2.5 × 106 g/km in seafloor sediments subducting into the same margin, demonstrating that the N input in oceanic crust, and its isotopic consequences, must be considered in any assessment of convergent margin N flux.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Geochemistry and Petrology