Decarbonation in an intracratonic setting: Insight from petrological-thermomechanical modeling

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    Cratons form the stable core roots of the continental crust. Despite long-term stability, cratons have failed in the past. Cratonic destruction (e.g., North Atlantic Craton) due to chemical rejuvenation at the base of the lithosphere remains poorly constrained numerically. We use 2-D petrological-thermomechanical models to assess cratonic rifting characteristics and mantle CO2 degassing in the presence of a carbonated subcontinental lithospheric mantle (SCLM). We test two tectonothermal SCLM compositions: Archon (depleted) and Tecton (fertilized) using 2 CO2 wt % in the bulk composition to represent a metasomatized SCLM. We parameterize cratonic breakup via extensional duration (7–12 Ma; full breakup), tectonothermal age, TMoho (300–600°C), and crustal rheology. The two compositions with metasomatized SCLMs share similar rifting features and decarbonation trends during initial extension. However, we show long-term (>67 Ma) stability differences due to lithospheric density contrasts between SCLM compositions. The Tecton model shows convective removal and thinning of the metasomatized SCLM during failed rifting. The Archon composition remained stable, highlighting the primary role for SCLM density even when metasomatized at its base. In the short-term, three failed rifting characteristics emerge: failed rifting without decarbonation, failed rifting with decarbonation, and semifailed rifting with dry asthenospheric melting and decarbonation. Decarbonation trends were greatest in the failed rifts, reaching peak fluxes of 94 × 104 kg m−3. Increased TMoho did not alter the effects of rifting or decarbonation. Lastly, we show mantle regions where decarbonation, mantle melting in the presence of carbonate, and preservation of carbonated mantle occur during rifting.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)5992-6013
    Number of pages22
    JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth
    Issue number8
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2017


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