Carbon Fluxes and Primary Magma CO2 Contents Along the Global Mid-Ocean Ridge System

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The concentration of carbon in primary mid-ocean ridge basalts (MORBs), and the associated fluxes of CO2 outgassed at ocean ridges, is examined through new data obtained by secondary ion mass spectrometry (SIMS) on 753 globally distributed MORB glasses. MORB glasses are typically 80–90% degassed of CO2. We thus use the limited range in CO2/Ba (81.3 ± 23) and CO2/Rb (991 ± 129), derived from undegassed MORB and MORB melt inclusions, to estimate primary CO2 concentrations for ridges that have Ba and/or Rb data. When combined with quality-controlled volatile-element data from the literature (n = 2,446), these data constrain a range of primary CO2 abundances that vary from 104 ppm to 1.90 wt%. Segment-scale data reveal a range in MORB magma flux varying by a factor of 440 (from 6.8 × 105 to 3.0 × 108 m3/year) and an integrated global MORB magma flux of 16.5 ± 1.6 km3/year. When combined with CO2/Ba and CO2/Rb-derived primary magma CO2 abundances, the calculated segment-scale CO2 fluxes vary by more than 3 orders of magnitude (3.3 × 107 to 4.0 × 1010 mol/year) and sum to an integrated global MORB CO2 flux of (Formula presented.) × 1012 mol/year. Variations in ridge CO2 fluxes have a muted effect on global climate; however, because the vast majority of CO2 degassed at ridges is dissolved into seawater and enters the marine bicarbonate cycle. MORB degassing would thus only contribute to long-term variations in climate via degassing directly into the atmosphere in shallow-water areas or where the ridge system is exposed above sea level.

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Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems