Newly formed oceanic crust is altered by seawater and carbonated at low temperatures over poorly defined periods of time. We applied in situ U-Pb dating to investigate 28 carbonate veins from Ocean Drilling Program Hole 801C, which is situated in the oldest Jurassic-age oceanic crust preserved in the western Pacific Ocean. Our results indicate that Pacific Ocean crust began accreting at 192 ± 6 Ma, which is ~25 m.y. earlier than previously recognized. Carbonation peaked at 171 ± 5 Ma and continued at a low rate for more than ~65 m.y. after accretion. Jurassic carbonation rates varied over ~10 m.y. timescales but encompassed a range similar to that observed today. These data suggest that carbonation rates are relatively insensitive to changes in atmospheric CO2, but confirm the longevity of seafloor alteration as a critical control in global volatile cycling.

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