Tectonic Fluxes of Deep Carbon Project uri icon

DCO ID 11121/1400-9855-6943-2945-CC


  • We seek to determine the flux of deep crustal and mantle carbon to the atmosphere from areas of active continental extension and mountain building. We will focus on (1) metamorphic processes, (2) erosional processes, (3) rifted areas and sedimentary basins, and (4) reduced carbon in tectonic areas.

    (1) Tectonic Fluxes of Carbon Workshop

    Just before the AGU fall meeting 2013, the DCO sponsored a workshop on ‘Tectonic Fluxes of Carbon’ held on Sunday December 8, 2013, at the San Francisco Mariott Marquis. The workshop was co-organized by Jay Ague (Yale, USA) and Olivier Beyssac (CNRS IMPMC Paris, France), and was attended by nearly 50 people representing eight countries. This full day of discussion was organized around three scientific sessions entitled ‘Carbon cycle and C-bearing fluids and minerals’, ‘Deep carbon in orogens’ and ‘Low-temperature carbon cycling’. Each session was animated by a discussion leader, and included three keynotes by leading scientists in the domain. During lunch, a poster session allowed the participants to present their own research.

    The workshop was focused on the ‘Tectonic Fluxes of Carbon’ covering potentially all non-volcanic carbon fluxes affecting the Earth’s lithosphere. The lithosphere has actually a key position in the carbon cycle at the interface between the exosphere (atmosphere, oceans, biosphere) and the deep Earth. Part of the discussion was dedicated to specific carbon fluxes during major geological processes like erosion or subduction, or non-volcanic degassing in orogens or faulted areas. Global quantification of these fluxes remains in its infancy and we have a poor knowledge of the geochemical processes beyond these fluxes affecting both organic and inorganic carbon. Clearly, more dedicated field studies and measurement campaigns are needed and various field targets were identified including the Himalayas and the Appenines/Western Alps/Corsica systems. Modeling aspects were also discussed from global modeling of the carbon cycle to thermodynamic modeling of graphite formation during fluid-rock interactions, through modelling of carbon mobility at the Earth’s surface during erosion or in sedimentary basins. Altogether, it appears that the ‘Tectonic Fluxes of Carbon’ definitely require integrated multidisciplinary studies on different spatial and temporal scales of observation.


    (2) Corsica field studies, co-principal investigators Ague and Beyssac

    Because Alpine Corsica offers world-class exposures of high-pressure metamorphic rocks, it is a prime target for research as well as a workshop. Key questions about the fate of carbon in subduction zones may be investigated there, and processes like carbonate devolatilization or dissolution and graphite formation or oxidation may be studied in situ. Moreover, redox phenomena involving serpentinite and methane production could have relevance for both the Deep Energy and Deep Life communities. Field work will commence in September 2014, and the project will continue over two years.


date/time interval

  • April 2013 -