Fluxing of mantle carbon as a physical agent for metallogenic fertilization of the crust
Magmatic systems play a crucial role in enriching the crust with volatiles and elements that reside primarily within the Earth's mantle, including economically important metals like nickel, copper and platinum-group elements. However, transport of these metals within silicate magmas primarily occurs within dense sulfide liquids, which tend to coalesce, settle and not be efficiently transported in ascending magmas. Here we show textural observations, backed up with carbon and oxygen isotope
... oxygen isotope data, which indicate an intimate association between mantle-derived carbonates and sulfides in some mafic-ultramafic magmatic systems emplaced at the base of the continental crust. We propose that carbon, as a buoyant supercritical CO2 fluid, might be a covert agent aiding and promoting the physical transport of sulfides across the mantle-crust transition. This may be a common but cryptic mechanism that facilitates cycling of volatiles and metals from the mantle to the lower-to-mid continental crust, which leaves little footprint behind by the time magmas reach the Earth's surface.