EPSL: Assessing the presence of volatile-bearing mineral phases in the cratonic mantle as a possible cause of mid-lithospheric discontinuities

Authors: Sriparna Saha, Ye Peng, Rajdeep Dasgupta, Mainak Mookherjee, Karen M. Fischer

Abstract: A number of possible hypotheses have been proposed to explain the origin of mid-lithospheric discontinuities (MLDs), typically characterized by ∼2-6% reductions in seismic shear wave velocity (Vs) at depths of 60 km to ∼150 km in the cratonic sub-continental lithospheric mantle (SCLM). One such hypothesis is the presence of low-shear wave velocity, hydrous and carbonate mineral phases. Although, the presence of hydrous silicates and carbonates can cause a reduction in the shear wave velocity of mantle domains, the contribution of volatile metasomatism to the origins of MLDs has remained incompletely evaluated. To assess the metasomatic origin of MLDs, we compiled experimental phase assemblages, phase proportions, and phase compositions from the literature in peridotite +H2O, peridotite +CO2, and peridotite +H2O +CO2 systems at P-T conditions where hydrous silicate and/or carbonate minerals are stable. By comparing the experimental assemblages with the compiled bulk peridotite compositions for cratons, we bracket plausible proportions and compositions of hydrous silicate and carbonate mineral phases that can be expected in cratonic SCLMs. Based on the CaO and K2O contents of cratonic peridotite xenoliths and the estimated upper limit of CO2content in SCLM, ≤∼10 vol.% pargasitic amphibole, ≤∼2.1 vol.% phlogopite and ≤∼0.2 vol.% magnesite solid solution can be stable in the SCLM. We also present new elasticity data for the pargasite end member of amphibole based on first principles simulations for more accurate estimates of aggregate Vs for metasomatized domains in cratonic mantle. Using the bracketed phase compositions, phase proportions, and updated values of elastic constants for relevant mineral end members, we further calculate aggregate Vs at MLD depths for three seismic stations in the northern continental U.S. Depending on the choice of background wave speeds of unmetasomatized peridotite and the cratonic geotherm, the composition and abundance of volatile-bearing mineral phases bracketed here can explain as much as 2.01 to 3.01% reduction in Vs. While various craton formation scenarios allow formation of the amphibole and phlogopite abundances bracketed here, presence of volatile-bearing phases in an average cratonic SCLM composition cannot explain the entire range of velocity reductions observed at MLDs. Other possible velocity reduction mechanisms thus must be considered to explain the full estimated range of shear wave speed reduction at MLD depths globally.


Saha, S., Peng, Y., Dasgupta, R., Mookherjee, M. & Fischer, K. M. (2021). Assessing the presence of volatile-bearing mineral phases in the cratonic mantle as a possible cause of mid-lithospheric discontinuities. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 553, 116602. doi:10.1016/j.epsl.2020.116602

AR-MS: The Origin of Modern Atolls: Challenging Darwin’s Deeply Ingrained Theory


In 1842, Darwin identified three types of reefs: fringing reefs, which are directly attached to volcanic islands; barrier reefs, which are separated from volcanic islands by lagoons; and ring reefs, which enclose only a lagoon and are defined as atolls. Moreover, he linked these reef types through an evolutionary model in which an atoll is the logical end point of a subsiding volcanic edifice, as he was unaware of Quaternary glaciations. As an alternative, starting in the 1930s, several authors proposed the antecedent karst model; in this model, atolls formed as a direct interaction between subsidence and karst dissolution that occurred preferentially in the bank interiors rather than on their margins through exposure during glacial lowstands of sea level. Atolls then developed during deglacial reflooding of the glacial karstic morphologies by preferential stacked coral-reef growth along their margins. Here, a comprehensive new model is proposed, based on the antecedent karst model and well-established sea-level fluctuations during the last 5 million years, by demonstrating that most modern atolls from the Maldives Archipelago and from the tropical Pacific and southwest Indian Oceans are rooted on top of late Pliocene flat-topped banks. The volcanic basement, therefore, has had no influence on the late Quaternary development of these flat-topped banks into modern atolls. During the multiple glacial sea-level lowstands that intensified throughout the Quaternary, the tops of these banks were karstified; then, during each of the five mid-to-late Brunhes deglaciations, coral reoccupied their raised margins and grew vertically, keeping up with sea-level rise and creating the modern atolls.

Expected final online publication date for the Annual Review of Marine Science, Volume 13 is January 4, 2021.


André W. Droxler1 and Stéphan J. Jorry2

2Marine Geosciences Unit, IFREMER, 29280 Plouzané, France

GCA: Partial Melting of a Depleted Peridotite Metasomatized by a MORB-Derived Hydrous Silicate Melt–Implications for Subduction Zone Magmatism


Recent geodynamic models and geothermometers suggest that slabs in intermediate to hot subduction zone cross the water-saturated basalt solidus, indicating that hydrous silicate melts are important agents of mass transfer from slab to mantle wedge beneath arcs. Yet the effects of basaltic crust-derived hydrous melt fluxing on mantle wedge melting are poorly known. Here we present the melting phase relations of a depleted peridotite + a MORB-derived hydrous silicate melt at a melt:rock mass ratio of 0.1 and 0.05 (3.5 and 1.7 wt.% H2O, respectively) to simulate fluid-present partial melting of a depleted peridotite, which has been metasomatized by a hydrous silicate melt derived from subducting basaltic crust. Experiments were performed at 2–3 GPa and 900–1250 °C in a piston cylinder, using Au and Au75Pd25 capsules. Amphibole (7–10 wt.%) is stable up to 1000 °C at 2 and 3 GPa coexisting with an assemblage dominated by olivine and opx and with minor fractions of cpx and garnet at 3 GPa. The apparent fluid-saturated solidus of our bulk composition is located at 1000–1050 °C, coinciding with the exhaustion of amphibole at 2 and 3 GPa. Amphibole is exhausted between 0 and 5 wt.% melting at 2 and 3 GPa and dominates the melting reactions in this melting interval along with opx, generating SiO2 and Al2O3-rich, and FeO*- and MgO-poor primitive andesites under fluid-saturated conditions. The melting reactions during low-degree, fluid-saturated melting are incongruent, consuming opx and producing olivine + SiO2-rich melts and is observed over a wide range of starting compositions and pressures from this study and others. As extent of melting increases and the free fluid phase is consumed, a spectrum of basaltic andesites to basanites are produced. Comparison of experimental partial melts from this and other hydrous peridotite melting studies with natural primitive arc magmas suggests that melting of peridotites with varying bulk compositions but with 2.5 – 4.2 wt.% H2O can reproduce the major oxide spread and trends of primitive arc magmas globally. From this comparison, it is clear that differences solely in the pressure of hydrous mantle melting, where the partial melts are fluid-under saturated, can account for the first order trends observed in experimental and natural data, with differences in temperature and composition contributing to the compositional spread within these trends. The ubiquity of andesite genesis over a wide range of pressures and bulk compositions during aqueous fluid-saturated melting suggests that the relative rarity of primitive andesitic melt flux through the crust could be related to the fact that such melts are only produced at the base of the mantle wedge where temperatures are relatively low. As fluid-saturated andesitic melts ascend into the hotter core of the mantle wedge, they are likely consumed by higher-degree, fluid-undersaturated melting generating more common hydrous basaltic melts.


Lara, M. & Dasgupta, R. (2020) Partial Melting of a Depleted Peridotite Metasomatized by a MORB-Derived Hydrous Silicate Melt–Implications for Subduction Zone Magmatism. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 290: doi:10.1016/j.gca.2020.09.001

EPSL: Thermobarometry of CO2-rich, silica-undersaturated melts constrains cratonic lithosphere thinning through time in areas of kimberlitic magmatism

By Chenguang Sun and Rajdeep Dasgupta



Cratonic lithosphere is believed to have been chemically buoyant and mechanically resistant to destruction over billions of years. Yet the absence of cratonic roots at some Archean terrains casts doubt on the craton stability and longevity on a global scale. As unique mantle-derived melts at ancient continents, silica-poor, kimberlitic melts are ideal tools to constrain the temporal variation of lithosphere thickness and the processes affecting the lithosphere root. However, no reliable thermobarometer exists to date for strongly silica-undersaturated, mantle-derived melts. Here we develop a new thermobarometer for silica-poor, CO2-rich melts using high-temperature, high-pressure experimental data. Our barometer is calibrated based on a new observation of pressure-dependent variation of Al2O3 in partial melts saturated with garnet and olivine, while our thermometer is calibrated based on the well- known olivine-melt Mg-exchange. For applications to natural magmas, we also establish a correction scheme to estimate their primary melt compositions.

Applying this liquid-based thermobarometer to the estimated primary melt compositions for a global kimberlite dataset, we show that the equilibration depths between primary kimberlite melts and mantle peridotites indicate a decrease of up to ∼150 km in cratonic lithosphere thickness globally during the past ∼2 Gyr. Together with the temporal coupling between global kimberlite frequency and cold subduction flux since ∼2 Gyr ago, our results imply a causal link between lithosphere thinning and supply of CO2-rich melts enhanced by deep subduction of carbonated oceanic crusts. While hibernating at the lithosphere root, these melts chemically metasomatize and rheologically weaken the rigid lithosphere and consequently facilitate destruction through convective removal in the ambient mantle or thermo- magmatic erosion during mantle plume activities.


Sun, C. & Dasgupta, R. (2020) Thermobarometry of CO2-rich, silica-undersaturated melts constrains cratonic lithosphere thinning through time in areas of kimberlitic magmatism. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 550: 116549. doi:10.1016/j.epsl.2020.116549

JGR Planets: Constraining Ancient Magmatic Evolution on Mars Using Crystal Chemistry of Detrital Igneous Minerals in the Sedimentary Bradbury Group, Gale Crater, Mars

V. Payré, K. L. Siebach, R. Dasgupta, A. Udry, E. B. Rampe, S. M. Morrison


Understanding magmatic processes is critical to understanding Mars as a system, but Curiosity’s investigation of dominantly sedimentary rocks has made it difficult to constrain igneous processes. Igneous classification of float rocks is challenging because of the following: (1) the possibility that they have been affected by sedimentary processes or weathering, and (2) grain size heterogeneity in the observed rock textures makes the small‐scale compositions measured by rover instruments unreliable for bulk classification. We avoid these ambiguities by using detrital igneous mineral chemistry to constrain models of magmatic processes in the source region for the fluvio‐deltaic Bradbury group. Mineral chemistry is obtained from X‐ray diffraction of three collected samples and a new stoichiometric and visual filtering of ~5,000 laser induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS) spots to identify compositions of individual igneous minerals. Observed mineral chemistries are compared to those produced by MELTS thermodynamic modeling to constrain possible magmatic conditions. Fractionation of two starting primary melts derived from different extent of adiabatic decompression melting of a primitive mantle composition could result in the crystallization of all minerals observed. Crystal fractionation of a subalkaline and an alkaline magma is required to form the observed minerals. These results are consistent with the collection of alkaline and subalkaline rocks from Gale as well as clasts from the Martian meteorite Northwest Africa 7034 and paired stones. This new method for constraining magmatic processes will be of significant interest for the Mars 2020 mission, which will also investigate an ancient volcaniclastic‐sedimentary environment and will include a LIBS instrument.

Nature Communications: Clustering earthquake signals and background noises in continuous seismic data with unsupervised deep learning

Léonard Seydoux, Randall Balestriero, Piero Poli, Maarten de Hoop, Michel Campillo &  Richard Baraniuk



The continuously growing amount of seismic data collected worldwide is outpacing our abilities for analysis, since to date, such datasets have been analyzed in a human-expert-intensive, supervised fashion. Moreover, analyses that are conducted can be strongly biased by the standard models employed by seismologists. In response to both of these challenges, we develop a new unsupervised machine learning framework for detecting and clustering seismic signals in continuous seismic records. Our approach combines a deep scattering network and a Gaussian mixture model to cluster seismic signal segments and detect novel structures. To illustrate the power of the framework, we analyze seismic data acquired during the June 2017 Nuugaatsiaq, Greenland landslide. We demonstrate the blind detection and recovery of the repeating precursory seismicity that was recorded before the main landslide rupture, which suggests that our approach could lead to more informative forecasting of the seismic activity in seismogenic areas.

Nature Communications volume 11, Article number: 3972 (2020) https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-020-17841-x

Geophysical Research Letters: Autocorrelation Reflectivity of Mars

Sizhuang Deng and Alan Levander


The seismic structure of the Martian interior can shed light on the formation and dynamic evolution of the planet and our solar system. The deployment of the seismograph carried by the InSight mission provides a means to study Martian internal structure. We used ambient noise autocorrelation to analyze the available vertical component seismic data to recover the reflectivity beneath the Insight lander. We identify the noise that is approximately periodic with the Martian sol as daily lander operations and the diurnal variation in Martian weather and tides. To investigate the seismic discontinuities at different depths, the autocorrelograms are filtered and stacked into different frequency bands. We observe prominent reflection signals probably corresponding to the Martian Moho, the olivine‐wadsleyite transition in the mantle, and the core‐mantle boundary in the stacked autocorrelograms. We estimate the depths of these boundaries as ~35, 1,110–1,170, and 1,520–1,600 km, consistent with other estimates.


Science Advances: Crustal thickening and endogenic oxidation of magmatic sulfur

Ming Tang, Cin-Ty Lee, Wei-Qiang Ji, Rui Wang, Gelu Costin


Porphyry ore deposits, Earth’s most important resources of copper, molybdenum, and rhenium, are strongly associated with felsic magmas showing signs of high-pressure differentiation and are usually found in places with thickened crust (>45 kilometers). This pattern is well-known, but unexplained, and remains an outstanding problem in our understanding of porphyry ore deposit formation. We approach this problem by investigating the oxidation state of magmatic sulfur, which controls the behavior of ore-forming metals during magma differentiation and magmatic-hydrothermal transition. We use sulfur in apatite to reconstruct the sulfur oxidation state in the Gangdese batholith, southern Tibet. We find that magma sulfate content increased abruptly after India-Eurasia collision. Apatite sulfur content and the calculated magma S6+/ΣS ratio correlate with whole-rock dysprosium/ytterbium ratio, suggesting that residual garnet, favored in thickened crust, exerts a first-order control on sulfur oxidation in magmatic orogens. Our findings link sulfur oxidation to internal petrogenic processes and imply an intrinsic relationship of magma oxidation with synmagmatic crustal thickening.

Tang, M., Lee, C. A., Ji, W., Wang, R., & Costin, G. (2020). Crustal thickening and endogenic oxidation of magmatic sulfur. Science Advances, 6, 31, eaba6342. DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aba6342




Nature Communications: Molecular hydrogen in minerals as a clue to interpret ∂D variations in the mantle

B. N. Moine, N. Bolfan-Casanova, I. B. Radu, D. A. Ionov, G. Costin, A. V. Korsakov, A. V. Golovin, O. B. Oleinikov, E. Deloule & J. Y. Cottin


Trace amounts of water dissolved in minerals affect density, viscosity and melting behaviour of the Earth’s mantle and play an important role in global tectonics, magmatism and volatile cycle. Water concentrations and the ratios of hydrogen isotopes in the mantle give insight into these processes, as well as into the origin of terrestrial water. Here we show the presence of molecular H2 in minerals (omphacites) from eclogites from the Kaapvaal and Siberian cratons. These omphacites contain both high amounts of H2 (70 to 460 wt. ppm) and OH. Furthermore, their ∂D values increase with dehydration, suggesting a positive H isotope fractionation factor between minerals and H2–bearing fluid, contrary to what is expected in case of isotopic exchange between minerals and H2O-fluids. The possibility of incorporation of large quantities of H as H2 in nominally anhydrous minerals implies that the storage capacity of H in the mantle may have been underestimated, and sheds new light on H isotope variations in mantle magmas and minerals.

Moine, B.N., Bolfan-Casanova, N., Radu, I.B. et al. Molecular hydrogen in minerals as a clue to interpret ∂D variations in the mantle. Nat Commun 11, 3604 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-020-17442-8

Nature Communications: Effects of climate change on the movement of future landfalling Texas tropical cyclones

Pedram Hassanzadeh, Chia-Ying Lee, Ebrahim Nabizadeh, Suzana J. Camargo, Ding Ma, and Laurence Y. Yeung

Nature Communications 11 (2020): 3319. doi: 10.1038/s41467-020-17130-7


The movement of tropical cyclones (TCs), particularly around the time of landfall, can substantially affect the resulting damage. Recently, trends in TC translation speed and the likelihood of stalled TCs such as Harvey have received significant attention, but findings have remained inconclusive. Here, we examine how the June-September steering wind and translation speed of landfalling Texas TCs change in the future under anthropogenic climate change. Using several large-ensemble/multi-model datasets, we find pronounced regional variations in the meridional steering wind response over North America, but―consistently across models―stronger June-September-averaged northward steering winds over Texas. A cluster analysis of daily wind patterns shows more frequent circulation regimes that steer landfalling TCs northward in the future. Downscaling experiments show a 10-percentage-point shift from the slow-moving to the fast-moving end of the translation-speed distribution in the future. Together, these analyses indicate increases in the likelihood of faster-moving landfalling Texas TCs in the late 21st century.