Origin of carbonatites and associated silicate rocks revealed by Mg triple-isotope approach

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Carbonatites are rare carbonate-rich igneous rocks derived from carbon and carbonate-rich regions of Earth's mantle. Although a number of igneous processes are recognized to have controlled their compositions, the origin of the carbonate-rich nature of these magmas remains debated and has been linked to various mantle-related processes, including subduction and plume–lithosphere interaction. High-precision isotope measurements can provide insights into carbonatite petrogenesis, including the identification of subducted crustal material in their source region. In particular, combining mass-dependent and kinetically corrected Mg isotope data, also known as the triple-isotope approach, provides insights into mass fractionation processes driving mass dependent fractionation, which in turn allows to distinguish between equilibrium and kinetic processes. In this work, we report high-precision Mg stable isotope data for 59 carbonatites and associated silicate rocks from different localities and ages ranging from 3000 Ma to present-day, as well as C and O isotopic analysis for 38 carbonatites and Sr isotopic analysis for 41 carbonatites and silicate rocks. In addition, we also report Mg isotope data for 17 Phanerozoic carbonate rocks, with the aim of identifying the isotopic signature of carbonate-rich material potentially recycled to the carbonatite mantle source regions. Collectively, the data reveal a range of stable Mg isotope compositions from δ25/24MgDTS-2 = −1.20 ± 0.01‰ to +0.08 ± 0.01‰. We observe positive residual deviations after kinetic mass fractionation correction of the Mg isotope data for our carbonatites; an isotope signal that is also present in Phanerozoic carbonates. This observation establishes that a component of the Mg present in these samples experienced mass-dependent equilibrium isotopic fractionation processes, which are significantly larger at low temperatures. Given that the Mg results do not covary with C and O isotopic signals, the magnitude of the fractionation following the equilibrium law observed in carbonatites provides strong evidence for recycled material from the Earth's surface in the mantle source of Ca- and Mg-rich carbonatites. Furthermore, associated silicate rocks present mantle-like Mg isotopic compositions in contrast with the genetically linked carbonatites - based on the Sr isotopes - for some complexes, which is best explained if the carbonatites and associated silicate rocks represent distinct generation of partial melts of a mantle source containing recycled carbonate.

Original languageEnglish
Article number121663
JournalChemical Geology
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - 2023

ID: 365958044