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Fluid Release from Subducted Slabs Without Percolation Flow


Two diagrams from the paper

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Source: Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth

Can we find another way for water to flow out of a subducting slab instead of percolation? Chen et al. [2023] suggest that stacking the water in a 2D fluid phase within intercalated crystalline interfaces of minerals like graphite, mica, or brucite could be an option. They used simulations to show that water could potentially flow through this type of 2D fluid phase.

-bonds do not

The researchers discovered that the process of water intercalation in subducting slabs is thermodynamically motivated in three types of crystalline interfaces: graphite, brucite, and muscovite mica interlayers. The crucial requirement for this intercalation to occur is that there should not be strong hydrogen bonding between the crystalline surface and water. The key factor is the absence of H-bonds.2

Intercalating into the crystal interface could potentially help reduce seismic activity, allowing for easier transmission of stress changes that can trigger earthquakes. This could potentially negate the need for the dehydration embrittlement hypothesis.

Citation: Chen, M., Zhu, R., Zhu, J., & He, H. (2023). Percolation of low-dimensional water at crystalline interfaces mediates fluid migration in subducting slabs. Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth, 128, e2023JB027124. https://doi.org/10.1029/2023JB027124

—Nikolai Bagdassarov, Associate Editor, JGR: Solid Earth

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