The interplay between the processes controlling the mobility of H2O and C-bearing species during subduction zone metamorphism exerts a critical control on plate tectonics and global volatile recycling. Here we present the first study on fresh, carbonate-bearing, lawsonite eclogite-facies metabasalts from Alpine Corsica, France, which reached the critical depths at which important devolatilization reactions occur in subducting slabs. The studied samples indicate that the evolution of oceanic crustal sequences subducted under present-day thermal regimes is dominated by localized fluid-rock interactions that are strongly controlled by the nature and extent of inherited (sub)seafloor hydrothermal processes, and by the possibility of deep fluids to be channelized along inherited or newly-formed discontinuities. Fluid channelization along inherited discontinuities controlled local rehydration and dehydration/decarbonation reactions and the stability of carbonate and silicate minerals at the blueschist-eclogite transition. Fluid-mediated decarbonation was driven by upward, up-temperature fluid flow in the inverted geothermal gradient of a subducting oceanic slab, a process that has not been documented in natural samples to date. We estimate that the observed fluid-rock reactions released 20–60 kg CO2 per m3 of rock (i.e. ~0.7–2.1 wt% CO2), which is in line with the values predicted from decarbonation of metabasalts in open systems at these depths. Conversely, the estimated time-integrated fluid fluxes (20–50 t/m2) indicate that the amount of carbon transported by channelized fluid flow within the volcanic part of subducting oceanic plates is potentially much higher than previous numerical estimates, testifying to the percolation of C-bearing fluids resulting from devolatilization/dissolution processes operative in large reservoirs.