The solubility of calcite in NaCl-H2O solutions was measured at 600–900 °C, 10 kbar, at NaCl concentrations ranging from dilute to near halite saturation, and at 6–14 kbar, 700 °C, in 30 mol% NaCl solutions. Solubility was determined from the weight loss of cleavage rhombs of a pure natural calcite after experiments of 1/2 to 6 days in a piston-cylinder apparatus with NaCl-graphite furnaces. CaCO3 molality (mCaCO3) increases greatly with NaCl mole fraction (XNaCl): at 800 °C and 10 kbar, mCaCO3 increases from ~0.1 in pure H2O to near 4.0 at halite saturation (XNaCl ~ 0.6). There is also a large temperature effect at 10 kbar, with mCaCO3 increasing from 0.25 at 600 °C to 3.0 at 900 °C at XNaCl = 0.3. There is only a 20% increase with increasing pressure between 6 and 14 kbar at 700 °C and XNaCl = 0.3. Melting to a carbonate-rich liquid was inferred at 900 °C, 10 kbar, from XNaCl of 0 to 0.2. The composition, temperature, and pressure dependence of mCaCO3 are described by:
with T in Kelvins and P in kbar. The predicted increase of calcite solubility with salinity and temperature is so great that critical mixing of NaCl-rich hydrous carbonate liquid and CaCO3-rich saline solution is probable at 10 kbar near 1000 °C and XNaCl ~ 0.4.
The experimental results suggest a genetic mechanism for the enigmatic carbonated shear zones, such as the Attur Valley of southern India, where crustal rocks have been replaced by up to 20% by calcite and ankerite with mantle-like stable-isotope signatures. The high CaCO3 carrying capacity of concentrated alkali-chloride solutions, together with the drastic decrease in solubility between 1000 and 700 °C, plausibly account for large-scale emplacement of mantle-derived carbonate from concentrated chloride-carbonate solutions (or hydrosaline magmas) formed as immiscible fluids in the late stages of alkalic magmatism. Such solutions may also mobilize sulfate and phosphate minerals, which would have important consequences for redistribution of incompatible and heat-producing elements in the crust.