Tag Archives: mantle

When water met iron deep inside the Earth, it might have created conditions for life

Washington, DC— Reservoirs of oxygen-rich iron between the Earth’s core and mantle could have played a major role in Earth’s history, including the breakup of supercontinents, drastic changes in Earth’s atmospheric makeup, and the creation of life, according to recent work from an international research team published in National Science Review. (more…)

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New study reveals insights on plate tectonics, the forces behind earthquakes, volcanoes

The Earth’s outer layer is made up of a series of moving, interacting plates whose motion at the surface generates earthquakes, creates volcanoes and builds mountains. Geoscientists have long sought to understand the plates’ fundamental properties and the mechanisms that cause them to move and drift, and the questions have become the subjects of lively debate.

A study published online Feb. 27 by the journal Science is a significant step toward answering those questions. (more…)

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Ancient crater may be clue to Moon’s mantle

A massive impact on the Moon about 4 billion years ago left a 2,500-mile crater, among the largest known craters in the solar system. Smaller subsequent impacts left craters within that crater. Comparing the spectra of light reflected from the peaks of those craters may yield clues to the composition of the Moon’s lower crust and mantle — and would have implications for models of how the Moon formed.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Researchers from Brown University and the University of Hawaii have found some mineralogical surprises in the Moon’s largest impact crater. (more…)

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Newly discovered ocean plume could be major source of iron

Study reveals micronutrient riches rising from the Southern Mid-Atlantic Ridge

Scientists have discovered a vast plume of iron and other micronutrients more than 1,000 km long billowing from hydrothermal vents in the South Atlantic Ocean. The finding, soon to be published in the journal Nature Geoscience, calls past estimates of iron abundances into question, and may challenge researchers’ assumptions about iron sources in the world’s seas.

“This study and other studies like it are going to force the scientific community to reevaluate how much iron is really being contributed by hydrothermal vents and to increase those estimates, and that has implications for not only iron geochemistry but a number of other disciplines as well,” says Mak Saito, a WHOI associate scientist and lead author of the study. (more…)

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Noble gases hitch a ride on hydrous minerals

The six noble gases do not normally dissolve into minerals, leaving earth scientists to wonder how they are subducted back into the Earth. Researchers at Brown have discovered that the lattice structure of minerals such as amphibole provides a way. Better yet, the multiple isotopes of noble gases could help scientists track volatiles like water and carbon.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — The noble gases get their collective moniker from their tendency toward snobbishness. The six elements in the family, which includes helium and neon, don’t normally bond with other elements and they don’t dissolve into minerals the way other gases do. But now, geochemists from Brown University have found a mineral structure with which the nobles deign to fraternize. (more…)

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Lunar impacts created seas of molten rock

A new analysis of data from NASA’s Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter (LOLA) shows that molten rock may have been present on the Moon more recently and for longer periods than previously thought. Differentiation — a settling out of rock layers as liquid rock cools — would require thousands of years and a fluid rock sea at least six miles deep.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Early in the Moon’s history an ocean of molten rock covered its entire surface. As that lunar magma ocean cooled over millions of years, it differentiated to form the Moon’s crust and mantle. But according to a new analysis by planetary scientists from Brown University, this wasn’t the last time the Moon’s surface was melted on a massive scale. (more…)

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Researchers Propose New Way to Probe Earth’s Deep Interior

AUSTIN, Texas — Researchers from Amherst College and The University of Texas at Austin have described a new technique that might one day reveal in higher detail than ever before the composition and characteristics of the deep Earth.

There’s just one catch: The technique relies on a fifth force of nature (in addition to gravity, the weak and strong nuclear forces and electromagnetism) that has not yet been detected, but which some particle physicists think might exist. Physicists call this type of force a long-range spin-spin interaction. If it does exist, this exotic new force would connect matter at Earth’s surface with matter hundreds or even thousands of kilometers below, deep in Earth’s mantle. In other words, the building blocks of atoms—electrons, protons, and neutrons—separated over vast distances would “feel” each other’s presence. The way these particles interact could provide new information about the composition and characteristics of the mantle, which is poorly understood because of its inaccessibility. (more…)

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Magma in Earth’s Mantle Forms Deeper Than Once Thought

Study simulating pressures in mantle beneath the ocean floor shows that rocks can melt at depths up to 250 kilometers

Magma forms far deeper than geologists previously thought, according to new research results.

A team led by geologist Rajdeep Dasgupta of Rice University put very small samples of peridotite, rock derived from Earth’s mantle, under high pressures in a laboratory.

The scientists found that the rock can and does liquify, at least in small amounts, at pressures equivalent to those found as deep as 250 kilometers down in the mantle beneath the ocean floor. (more…)

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