Home / Science / Scientists are discovering a new way of creating volcanoes and bringing light to Bermuda's origins

Scientists are discovering a new way of creating volcanoes and bringing light to Bermuda's origins

The ancient, now dormant volcano on which the island of Bermuda is located has formed in a unique way, as scientists have discovered. The discovery not only solves a long-standing mystery about the volcanic origins of the island, but also describes a new form of volcanic formation.

In a study of a Bermuda rock core sample that was drilled in 1972, geoscientists have found the first direct evidence The material from the depth of the mantle transition zone – a layer that is rich in water, crystals and molten rock – can the surface seep and form volcanoes.

Researchers have long known that volcanoes form when tectonic plates converge or when mantle clouds rise from the core-mantle boundary to form hotspots on the Earth's crust.

Illustration of the formation of the volcano under Bermuda. (Photo Credit: Wendy Kenigsberg / Clive Howard, Cornell University)

However, finding that material from the transitional zone of the mantle – about 250 to 400 miles below the earth's crust – can cause the formation of volcanoes is new to geologists, according to the National Science Foundation.

"We have found a new way to make volcanoes," said geologist Esteban Gazel, associate professor at Cornell University and senior author of the paper published in Nature . "This is the first time that we find a clear indication in the transition zone deep in the mantle that volcanoes can form in this way."

According to Gazel, researchers had calculated that the data show that the volcano is a mantle feathering – an upswing from the deeper mantle – like Hawaii. This was not what they found.

"I suspected for the first time that Bermuda's volcanic past was special when I examined the core and noticed the various textures and mineralogies that were preserved in the various lava flows," said co-author of the newspaper, Sarah Mazza of the University of Münster. "We quickly confirmed extreme accumulations in trace element compositions. It was exciting to think about our first results … the secrets of Bermuda began to unfold. "

From the core samples, the researchers discovered geochemical signatures from the transition zone that contained larger amounts of water trapped in the crystals than in subduction zones. Water in subduction zones is returned to the earth's surface. There is enough water in the transition zone to create at least three oceans, according to Gazel, but it helps the rocks to melt in the transitional zone.

Earth scientists developed numerical models and discovered a disturbance in the transition zone. This has probably forced material from this deep cladding layer to melt and seep to the surface. It is believed that this occurred about 30 million years ago and formed the basis for today's Bermuda.

Despite more than 50 years of isotope measurements in oceanic lavas, the particular and extreme isotopes measured in the Bermuda lava core were something special. Scientists had never seen it before.

With the knowledge of this new model for the production of volcanoes, Bermuda may not be alone: ​​In the Atlantic, other volcanoes could have existed that were formed by the same or similar methods, Mazza said. "We just have not found her," she says.

Gazel said that research is creating a new link between the transition zone layer and volcanoes on the Earth's surface.

"We can demonstrate this with this work The Earth's transition zone is an extreme chemical reservoir," he said. "We are just beginning to realize its importance for global geodynamics and even volcanism."

Read The full study here.

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