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Authors: Ligi, M.* 
Bonatti, E.* 
Brunelli, D.* 
Cipriani, A.* 
Ottolini, L.* 
Title: Water in Mid Ocean Ridge Basalts: Some Like it Hot, Some Like it Cold
Issue Date: Nov-2011
Publisher: Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche
ISBN: ISSN 2239-5172
Keywords: Water in the Mantle
Melting Model
Mantle Flow
Mid Atlantic Ridge
Subject Classification04. Solid Earth::04.01. Earth Interior::04.01.02. Geological and geophysical evidences of deep processes 
Abstract: The presence in the Earth’s mantle of even small amounts of water and other volatiles has major effects: first, it lowers drastically mantle’s viscosity, thereby facilitating convection and plate tectonics; second, it lowers the melting temperature of the rising mantle affecting the formation of the oceanic crust. H2O concentration in oceanic basalts stays below 0.2 wt% except for basalts sampled near “hot spots” that contain significantly more H2O than normal MORB, implying that their mantle plume sources are unusually H2O-rich. Basalts sampled in the Equatorial Atlantic close to the Romanche transform, a thermal minimum in the Ridge system, have a H2O content that increases as the ridge is cooled approaching the transform offset. These basalts are Na-rich, being generated by low degrees of melting of the mantle, and contain unusually high ratios of light versus heavy rare earth elements implying the presence of garnet in the melting region. H2O enrichment is due not to an unusually H2O-rich mantle source, but to a low extent of melting of the upwelling mantle, confined to a deep wet melting region. Numerical models predict that this wet melting process takes place mostly in the mantle zone of stability of garnet. This prediction is verified by the geochemistry of our basalts showing that garnet must indeed have been present in their mantle source. Thus, oceanic basalts are H2O-rich not only near “hot spots”, but also at “cold spots”.
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