From Earth's Deep Mantle, Scientists Find a New Way Volcanoes Form

Far below Bermuda's pink sand beaches and turquoise tides, geoscientists have discovered the first direct evidence that material from deep within Earth's mantle transition zone—a layer rich in water, crystals and melted rock—can percolate to the surface to form volcanoes.

But obtaining evidence that material emanating from the mantle's transition zone—between 250 to 400 miles (440-660 km) beneath our planet's crust—can cause volcanoes to form is new to geologists.

"I first suspected that Bermuda's volcanic past was special as I sampled the core and noticed the diverse textures and mineralogy preserved in the different lava flows," Mazza said.

The geoscientists developed numerical models with Robert Moucha, associate professor of Earth sciences at Syracuse University, to discover a disturbance in the transition zone that likely forced material from this deep mantle layer to melt and percolate to the surface, Gazel said.

"If we start to look more carefully, I believe we're going to find these geochemical signatures in more places," Michael Bizimis, co-author of the study and associate professor at the University of South Carolina, said.

Gazel explained that this research provides a new connection between the transition zone layer and volcanoes on the surface of Earth.

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