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Experimental Constraints on Sulphur Behaviour in Subduction Zones: Implications for TTG and Adakite Production and the Global Sulphur Cycle since the Archean

Abstract : We performed crystallization experiments at 2-3 GPa at 700-950°C on basaltic and pelitic lithologies with added water and sulphur to constrain the factors controlling sulphur behaviour in subduction zones and how it may have varied through geological time. The resulting hydrous silicic melts have up to 20 times more dissolved sulphur (up to 1 wt %) than at 0*2-0*4 GPa, when moderately oxidized conditions prevail. Such high solubilities appear to result from the combined effects of enhanced solubility of water in high-pressure silicate melts (10-20 wt % H2O), which acts to decrease silica activity, and oxidizing conditions. The results confirm previous findings that high sulphur contents in silicate melts do not necessarily require iron-rich compositions, suggesting instead that sulphur-water complexes play a fundamental role in sulphur dissolution mechanisms in iron-poor silicic melts, in agreement with recent spectroscopic data. The experimental melts reproduce Phanerozoic slab-derived magmas, in particular their distinct Ca- and Mg-rich composition. The results also show that sulphur increases the degree of melting of basalt lithologies. Hence, we suggest that subducted slabs will preferentially melt where sulphur is present in abundance and that the variability in arc magma sulphur output reflects, in part, the vagaries of sulphur distribution in the slab source. In contrast, comparison with the composition of Archean felsic rocks suggests that, in the early Earth, much less sulphur was present in subducted slabs, in agreement with a number of independent lines of evidence showing that the Archean ocean, hence the hydrothermally altered subducted Archean oceanic crust, was considerably poorer in sulphur than at present. Volcanic degassing of sulphur was thus probably much weaker during the Archean than in Proterozoic-Phanerozoic times.
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Gaëlle Prouteau, Bruno Scaillet. Experimental Constraints on Sulphur Behaviour in Subduction Zones: Implications for TTG and Adakite Production and the Global Sulphur Cycle since the Archean. Journal of Petrology, Oxford University Press (OUP), 2013, 54 (1), pp.183-213. ⟨10.1093/petrology/egs067⟩. ⟨insu-00757219⟩

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