Serpentinite Seduction

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Science  15 Nov 2002:
Vol. 298, Issue 5597, pp. 1344-1345
DOI: 10.1126/science.298.5597.1344

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The mineral serpentinite forms through hydrothermal alteration of the main mantle mineral, peridotite. It has been implicated in earthquakes and volcanism in active subduction zones. In his Perspective, Kerrick asks whether serpentinite is indeed widespread in subducted oceanic plates. While there is some evidence for the occurrence of serpentinite at depths of ~50 km, no known mechanism can credibly explain the formation of the hydrated mineral at these depths.