Hydration adjacent to a deeply subducting slab: The roles of nominally anhydrous minerals and migrating fluids



Subduction-related transport of water into the mantle has significant dynamical and geochemical implications. Dehydration of hydrous phases within the slab can introduce water into the transition zone and lower mantle, potentially hydrating nominally anhydrous minerals (NAM) and impacting the viscosity and density structure of the mantle over a wide area. We present models of fluid transport and mantle hydration in the vicinity of a deeply subducting slab, focusing on the fate of water released by deep dehydration reaction in the subducted serpentinized mantle. A sharp decrease in water storage capacity across the lower boundary of the transition zone may produce “secondary dehydration” of hydrated NAM, leading to precipitation of a hydrous fluid and heterogeneous hydration of the transition zone. Rapid fluid migration relative to the solid flow field can lead to a broad region of diffuse hydration within the upper mantle wedge and the potential for localized melt regions at the top of the transition zone coincident with fluid pathways. Slower fluid migration instead implies that the fluid phase can be transported deep into the lower mantle. Water stabilized in NAM and as a free fluid can initiate upwelling within and above the transition zone. A less abrupt change in water storage capacity across the base of the transition zone leads to high NAM water contents in a channel adjacent to the slab where viscosity is reduced. However, seismic and electromagnetic observations of hydration in the transition zone are most compatible with a sudden drop of water storage capacity.