Elements: Carbonatites and global tectonics

Carbonatites have formed for at least the past three billion years. But over the past 700 My the incidence of carbonatites have significantly increased. We compile an updated list of 609 carbonatite occurrences and plot 387 of known age on plate tectonic reconstructions. Plate reconstructions from Devonian to present show that 75% of carbonatites are emplaced within 600 km of craton edges. Carbonatites are also associated with large igneous provinces, orogenies, and rift zones, suggesting that carbonatite magmatism is restricted to discrete geotectonic environments that can overlap in space and time. Temporal constraints indicate carbonatites and related magmas may form an ephemeral but significant flux of carbon between the mantle and atmosphere.



Humphreys-Williams, E.R. and Zahirovic, S., 2021. Carbonatites and global tectonics. Elements: An International Magazine of Mineralogy, Geochemistry, and Petrology17(5), pp.339-344.