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Earth's Mantle Exposed

Researchers in Japan have used secondary ion mass spectrometry to show that compounds in the Earth's lower mantle can store up to five times more water than the world's oceans.

Secondary ion mass spectrometry measurements show that Earth's representative lower mantle minerals can dissolve considerable amounts of hydrogen. Both magnesium (Mg) and calcium (Ca) perovskite contain about 0.2-0.4% by weight of water. The OH absorption bands in the minerals were also confirmed by the use of infrared spectroscopy.

The Earth's lower mantle consists of 79% Mg-perovskite and 5% Ca-perovskite. When this capacity is integrated over the mass of the lower mantle, the total mass of water is about 5 times that of the oceans. The considerable amounts of hydrogen can be stored in deep reservoirs such as the transition zone, lower mantle, and the Earth's core.

The full article appears in the March 8 issue of Science magazine.

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