Preprint Review Version 1 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

The "Global Salt Cycle": Formation of Giant Salt Accumulations, a Result of Subduction, Mantle Upwelling, and Rifting

Version 1 : Received: 14 July 2021 / Approved: 16 July 2021 / Online: 16 July 2021 (14:34:42 CEST)

How to cite: Johnsen, H.K.; Rueslatten, H.G.; Hovland, M.T. The "Global Salt Cycle": Formation of Giant Salt Accumulations, a Result of Subduction, Mantle Upwelling, and Rifting. Preprints 2021, 2021070377 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202107.0377.v1). Johnsen, H.K.; Rueslatten, H.G.; Hovland, M.T. The "Global Salt Cycle": Formation of Giant Salt Accumulations, a Result of Subduction, Mantle Upwelling, and Rifting. Preprints 2021, 2021070377 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202107.0377.v1).

Abstract

The main objective of this communication is to describe the ‘Global Salt Cycle’. Giant salt accumulations are commonly found along continental margins of former rifts. The first stage in the accumulation process is saturation of newly formed oceanic crust with seawater. Final mobilisation and accumulation of the salts occurs during rifting, localised in the vicinity of relict subduction zones. Oceanic crust is created along the spreading ridges in the deep oceans of the Earth. It exchanges mass and energy with seawater in hydrothermal circulation cells that penetrate deep into the new and fractured crust. Water-rock interactions include the formation of hydrated and hydroxylated minerals, e.g., serpentinites and clay minerals. By incorporating hydroxyl groups and water in their crystal lattices, the salinity of remaining brines increases. Subduction of oceanic crust and serpentinised lithosphere transports water, hydrated minerals, and marine salts deep into the crust and mantle. Upon pressurisation and heating of the subducting slab, different parts of this water are expelled at different depths/temperatures. The resulting fluids will contain salts brought in with the slab, as well as new salts formed by water-rock interaction. The combination of elevated pressures and temperatures, water, salinity, and CO2, create permeability in the normally impermeable, peridotitic mantle, by altering the fluid-rock dihedral angles of mineral grains. This P/T-determined intergranular permeability allows ascent of saline fluids, under lithostatic pressure, within the mantle wedge, or the slab itself. The fluids produce a mechanically weakened and buoyant zone within the mantle wedge due to high pore pressure between mineral grains and reduced mantle density. During the lifetime of a subduction zone, a substantial accumulation of saline fluids within the mantle wedge and crust, is evident. Deep, fluid reservoirs accumulate between the subduction trench and the volcanic front. They may exist for hundreds of millions of years, even after the extinction of the subduction zone. Saline fluids may escape to the surface along deep faults, due to overfilling of available pores/fractures. Fluids within the mantle wedge may form rock melts or exist as supercritical, mineral rich fluids. The combination of reduced pressure due to rifting, and a saline and buoyant mantle, creates a mantle circulation that brings the accumulated, saline fluids, to crustal levels. Salts will therefore accumulate during initial stages of rifting as a result of massive fluid expulsion, phase change and boiling of mantle fluids. No extra energy is required to produce phase change and boiling. The result is formation of solid salts or dense brines/slurries invading fractured crustal rocks, or escaping to the surface/seabed. This process may take place both before and after the sea has invaded a continental rift.

Subject Areas

Global salt cycle; Wilson cycle; Giant salt accumulations; Subduction; Rifting; Mantle; upwelling; Hydrated mantle; Hydrothermal salt expulsion; Hydrothermal circulation; Basin subsidence; Supercritical fluids; Phase separation; Saline brine; Salt diapir; Bedded salts; Inherited composition; Inherited structures; Lower crustal body; Electrical conductivity; Magnetotelluric method; Seismic velocity; Brittle-ductile behaviour; Continental crust formation; Oceanic crust formation; Hydration of oceanic crust; Serpentinization; Volcanism; Mineral solubility.

Comments (0)

We encourage comments and feedback from a broad range of readers. See criteria for comments and our diversity statement.

Leave a public comment
Send a private comment to the author(s)
Views 0
Downloads 0
Comments 0
Metrics 0


×
Alerts
Notify me about updates to this article or when a peer-reviewed version is published.
We use cookies on our website to ensure you get the best experience.
Read more about our cookies here.