EGU24-6602, updated on 08 Mar 2024
EGU General Assembly 2024
© Author(s) 2024. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Is mantle transition zone a water reservoir? Yes, but only transient

Taras Gerya
Taras Gerya
  • ETH Zurich, Institute of Geophysics, Department of Earth Sciences, Zurich, Switzerland (

The spinel phase (wadsleyite, ringwoodite) in the mantle transition zone (MTZ), can contain up to 1–2 wt% of water. However, whether these water reservoirs in the MTZ are filled is debated and, as the result, water content estimates in the MTZ range from less than 1 to up to 11 surface oceans (Ohtani, 2021 and references therein). I test water stability in the MTZ numerically by using 2D hydro-thermomechanical-chemical upper-mantle scale models with phase transitions and water diffusion and percolation in the mantle. Initial conditions correspond to a hydrated stagnant slab segment placed on top of 660 km discontinuity. Numerical model predicts that water diffusion from thermally relaxing slab triggers development of cold hydrous plumes from the slab surface, which are driven by the water-induced buoyancy (Richard and Bercovici, 2009). These plumes rise to and interact with olivine-spinel transition at 410 km. Positive Clapeyron slope of this transition causes cold plume upwellings to spread under it until their temperature rises enough to allow hydrated material to cross the transition. This crossing triggers aqueous fluid release, which rapidly rises upward in form of porosity waives. Relatively low water content and cold temperature of the wet plumes rising from stagnant slabs in the mantle transition zones may suppress hydrous melting above the 410 km discontinuity, thereby disabling the transition-zone water filter effect (Bercovici and Karato, 2002) at this boundary. Based on the results of experiments, we conclude that, due to the intrinsic positive buoyancy of hydrated mantle compared to dry rocks, mantle transition zone can only serve as a transient water reservoir. The duration of water residence mainly depends on the characteristic thermal-chemical relaxation time of subducting slabs in the mantle transition zone. Therefore, average water content in this zone should mainly depend on the average amount of water brought into it by subducting slabs globally during the characteristic relaxation time.



Bercovici, D., Karato, S., 2003. Whole-mantle convection and the transition zone water filter. Nature, 425, 39–44.

Ohtani, E., 2021. Hydration and Dehydration in Earth's Interior. Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences, 49, 253-278.

Richard, G.C., Bercovici, D., 2009. Water-induced convection in the Earth’s mantle transition zone. J. Geophys. Res. 114, B01205.

How to cite: Gerya, T.: Is mantle transition zone a water reservoir? Yes, but only transient, EGU General Assembly 2024, Vienna, Austria, 14–19 Apr 2024, EGU24-6602,, 2024.