Atmospheric Ar and Ne returned from mantle depths to the Earth's surface by forearc recycling

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In subduction zones, sediments, hydrothermally altered lithosphere, fluids, and atmospheric gases are transported into the mantle, where ultrahigh-pressure (UHP) metamorphism takes place. However, the extent to which atmospheric noble gases are trapped in minerals crystallized during UHP metamorphism is unknown. We measured Ar and Ne trapped in phengite and omphacite from the youngest known UHP terrane on Earth to determine the composition of Ar and Ne returned from mantle depths to the surface by forearc recycling. An 40Ar/39 Ar age [7.93 ± 0.10 My (1σ)] for phengite is interpreted as the timing of crystallization at mantle depths and indicates that 40Ar/39 Ar phengite ages reliably record the timing of UHP metamorphism. Both phengite and omphacite yielded atmospheric 38 Ar/36 Ar and 20Ne/22 Ne. Our study provides the first documentation, to our knowledge, of entrapment of atmospheric Ar and Ne in phengite and omphacite. Results indicate that a subduction barrier for atmosphericderived noble gases does not exist at mantle depths associated with UHP metamorphism. We show that the crystallization age together with the isotopic composition of nonradiogenic noble gases trapped in minerals formed during subsolidus crystallization at mantle depths can be used to unambiguously assess forearc recycling of atmospheric noble gases. The flux of atmospheric noble gas entering the deep Earth through subduction and returning to the surface cannot be fully realized until the abundances of atmospheric noble gases trapped in exhumed UHP rocks are known.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)14174-14179
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number46
StatePublished - Nov 17 2015


  • Atmosphere
  • Geochronology
  • Noble gas
  • Subduction
  • Uhp metamorphism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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