Evidence for primordial water in Earth’s deep mantle

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  13 Nov 2015:
Vol. 350, Issue 6262, pp. 795-797
DOI: 10.1126/science.aac4834

Shaking out water's dusty origin

Where did Earth's water come from? Lavas erupting on Baffin Island, Canada, tap a part of Earth's mantle isolated from convective mixing. Hallis et al. studied hydrogen isotopes in the lavas that help to “fingerprint” the origin of water from what could be a primordial reservoir. The isotope ratios for the Baffin Island basalt lavas suggest a pre-solar origin of water in Earth, probably delivered by adsorption onto dust grains.

Science, this issue p. 795


The hydrogen-isotope [deuterium/hydrogen (D/H)] ratio of Earth can be used to constrain the origin of its water. However, the most accessible reservoir, Earth’s oceans, may no longer represent the original (primordial) D/H ratio, owing to changes caused by water cycling between the surface and the interior. Thus, a reservoir completely isolated from surface processes is required to define Earth’s original D/H signature. Here we present data for Baffin Island and Icelandic lavas, which suggest that the deep mantle has a low D/H ratio (δD more negative than –218 per mil). Such strongly negative values indicate the existence of a component within Earth’s interior that inherited its D/H ratio directly from the protosolar nebula.

View Full Text

Stay Connected to Science