Water in Earth's Mantle: The Role of Nominally Anhydrous Minerals

David R. Bell and George R. Rossman

Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences
California Institute of Technology
Pasadena, CA 91125-2500, USA


Most minerals of Earth's upper mantle contain small amounts of hydrogen, structurally bound as hydroxyl (OH). The OH concentration in each mineral species is variable, in some cases reflecting the geological environment of mineral formation. Of the major mantle minerals, pyroxenes are the most hydrous, typically containing ~200 to 500 parts per million H2O by weight, and probably dominate the water budget and hydrogen geochemistry of mantle rocks that do not contain a hydrous phase. Garnets and olivines commonly contain ~1 to 50 parts per million. Nominally anhydrous minerals constitute a significant reservoir for mantle hydrogen, possibly accommodating all water in the depleted mantle and providing a possible mechanism to recycle water from Earth's surface into the deep mantle.