Episodic hydrofracturing and large-scale flushing along deep subduction interfaces: Implications for fluid transfer and carbon recycling (Zagros Orogen, southeastern Iran)

Jesús Muñoz-Montecinos, Samuel Angiboust, Antonio Garcia-Casco, Johannes Glodny, Gray Bebout

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


We investigate the late Cretaceous blueschist-facies (480 °C-1.8 GPa) segment of the Zagros suture zone, a well-preserved block-in-matrix paleo-subduction channel. We aim to determine the relative chronology, conditions of deformation, and potential fluid sources and processes associated with the widespread occurrence of lawsonite + clinopyroxene + glaucophane veins and aragonite-bearing hydraulic breccias. We use a multi-scale approach methodology to provide new insights into deep fluid flow mechanisms as well as to constrain possible sinks of CO2-bearing fluids in the subducting slab. Petrological analyses suggest that silicate-rich vein systems began precipitating during early burial and evolved with ongoing burial and shearing-related deformation in the blueschist-facies, while most carbonate-rich veins and hydrofractures formed at near-peak P-T conditions. In situ LA-ICP-MS trace element analyses reveal that: (i) individual silicate host-vein pairs have similar REE signatures, reflecting local-scale fluid-mediated element redistribution, (ii) carbonate-bearing veins and metasediments also have similar trace element signatures and (iii) lawsonite in blueschist-hosted veins exhibit REE enrichments along their rims, suggesting an increasing contribution of metasedimentary-derived fluids upon approaching peak P-T. Carbonate O[sbnd]C isotope compositions of the veins and metasedimentary rocks range from +13.6 to +17.9‰ (δ18OVSMOW) and − 1.0 to +3.1‰ (δ13CVPDB), demonstrating metasedimentary-derived fluid sources related to large-scale H2O homogenization with far-traveled mafic- ultramafic-derived fluids. Sr[sbnd]Nd isotopic ratios in carbonate veins and the adjacent host resemble their host composition indicating that host rock-buffered isotopic homogenization occurred between the infiltrating fluids and the rock matrix, possibly during episodic porous flow. Thermodynamic modeling predicts that decarbonation via fluid-assisted reactions is inefficient at blueschist-facies and that carbon release likely occurs deeper along the subduction interface (i.e., at eclogite-facies). We propose that deeply produced H2O-rich fluids interacted with the carbonate-bearing lithologies along the subduction interface facilitating fluid-mediated decarbonation and further fluid transport as hydraulic pulses (e.g., porosity waves) that traveled at the kilometer-scale parallel to the subduction interface, (i) contributing to the isotopic homogenization herein observed and (ii) triggering episodic hydrofracturing in the lawsonite-blueschist-facies (≈50-60 km depth). Veinsets in exhumed subducted rocks hence provide a unique opportunity to understand fluid-rock interaction processes in the region at which episodic tremor and slow slip events phenomena occur.

Original languageEnglish
Article number120173
JournalChemical Geology
Publication statusPublished - Jun 20 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Blueschist
  • Fluid pulses
  • Fluid-rock interaction
  • Hydrofracturing
  • Peak aragonite veins
  • Prograde veins
  • Subduction zones

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geology
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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