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Ice-VII inclusions in diamonds: Evidence for aqueous fluid in Earth’s deep mantle

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Science  09 Mar 2018:
Vol. 359, Issue 6380, pp. 1136-1139
DOI: 10.1126/science.aao3030

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Encapsulating Earth's deep water filter

Small inclusions in diamonds brought up from the mantle provide valuable clues to the mineralogy and chemistry of parts of Earth that we cannot otherwise sample. Tschauner et al. found inclusions of the high-pressure form of water called ice-VII in diamonds sourced from between 410 and 660 km depth, the part of the mantle known as the transition zone. The transition zone is a region where the stable minerals have high water storage capacity. The inclusions suggest that local aqueous pockets form at the transition zone boundary owing to the release of chemically bound water as rock cycles in and out of this region.

Science, this issue p. 1136

Abstract

Water-rich regions in Earth’s deeper mantle are suspected to play a key role in the global water budget and the mobility of heat-generating elements. We show that ice-VII occurs as inclusions in natural diamond and serves as an indicator for such water-rich regions. Ice-VII, the residue of aqueous fluid present during growth of diamond, crystallizes upon ascent of the host diamonds but remains at pressures as high as 24 gigapascals; it is now recognized as a mineral by the International Mineralogical Association. In particular, ice-VII in diamonds points toward fluid-rich locations in the upper transition zone and around the 660-kilometer boundary.

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