Stalled slabs sometimes stopped by mineral strengthening

Subduction of tectonic plates into the mantle functions as an eons-long recycling system for Earth’s crust and lithosphere. But in some subduction zones, the downgoing slabs seem to get stuck at depths of about 1,000 kilometers, held up by some unseen barrier on their journey deeper into the lower mantle. Now, scientists propose that this barrier might be related to high-pressure-induced strengthening of minerals in the rocks surrounding subducting slabs at these depths.

Full content for EARTH is available to subscribers. If you would like to gain access to the full version of this article, as well as all EARTH content, please subscribe today.

If you are connecting using a Library (IP-based) Subscription, please access full issues of the magazine through our Library Access portal.

Mary Caperton Morton

Mary Caperton Morton

Morton (https://theblondecoyote.com/) is a freelance science and travel writer based in Big Sky, Mont., and an EARTH roving correspondent.  

Sunday, August 9, 2015 - 06:00