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Scientists discover a new path of volcano form, light on the origin of Bermuda

The ancient, now resting volcano, which the island of Bermuda sits, is formed in a completely unique way, scientists have discovered. The find not only solves a long-standing mystery of the island's volcanic origin, but it also describes a new volcanic form. In the study of a rock core sample taken from Bermuda, drilled from 1972, geoscientists have discovered the first direct evidence that the material from the depth of the Earth's transition zone – a layer rich in water, crystals and molten rock – can percolate to the surface to form volcanoes. Scientists have long known that volcanoes form when tectonic plates converge or as a result of mantle plumes rising from the core sheath boundary to make hotspots at the Earth's crust. Illustration of how the volcano during Bermuda was formed. (Photo Credit: Wendy Kenigsberg / Clive Howard, Cornell University) But finding the material from the mantle's transition zone – about 250 to 400 miles below the Earth's crust – can cause volcanoes to form new geologists, according to the National Science Foundation. "We found a new way of making volcanoes," said geologist Esteban Gazel, associate professor at Cornell University and senior author of the paper published in Nature . "This is the first time we have found a clear indication from the transition zone deep in the earth's mantle that volcanoes can form that way." According to Gazel, the scientists were expecting data to show that the volcano was a mantle of plum formation – an uproar…

The ancient, now resting volcano, which the island of Bermuda sits, is formed in a completely unique way, scientists have discovered. The find not only solves a long-standing mystery of the island’s volcanic origin, but it also describes a new volcanic form.

In the study of a rock core sample taken from Bermuda, drilled from 1972, geoscientists have discovered the first direct evidence that the material from the depth of the Earth’s transition zone – a layer rich in water, crystals and molten rock – can percolate to the surface to form volcanoes.

Scientists have long known that volcanoes form when tectonic plates converge or as a result of mantle plumes rising from the core sheath boundary to make hotspots at the Earth’s crust.

Illustration of how the volcano during Bermuda was formed. (Photo Credit: Wendy Kenigsberg / Clive Howard, Cornell University)

But finding the material from the mantle’s transition zone – about 250 to 400 miles below the Earth’s crust – can cause volcanoes to form new geologists, according to the National Science Foundation.

“We found a new way of making volcanoes,” said geologist Esteban Gazel, associate professor at Cornell University and senior author of the paper published in Nature . “This is the first time we have found a clear indication from the transition zone deep in the earth’s mantle that volcanoes can form that way.”

According to Gazel, the scientists were expecting data to show that the volcano was a mantle of plum formation – an uproar from the deeper mantle – like Hawaii. It wasn’t what they found.

“I first assumed that Bermuda’s volcanic past was special when I gathered the core and noticed the various textures and mineralogy that were preserved in the various lava flows,” said paper co-author Sarah Mazza of the University of Münster, Germany. “We quickly confirmed extreme enrichment in trace element compositions. It was exciting to cross our first results … Bermuda mysteries began to evolve.”

From the nuclear samples, the researchers discovered geochemical signatures from the transition zone, which included larger amounts of water in the crystals than found in subduktionszoner. Water in subduction zones recovers back to the earth’s surface. There is enough water in the transition zone to form at least three oceans, according to Gazel, but it is the water that helps rock to melt in the transition zone.

The geosciences developed numerical models and discovered a disturbance in the transition zone that probably forced the material from this deep shell layer to melt and percolate to the surface. This is believed to have taken place some 30 million years ago and provided the basis for Bermuda to sit today.

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

With the knowledge of this new model for vulcanization, Bermuda cannot be alone: ​​Other volcanoes can exist in the Atlantic formed by the same or similar processes, Mazza says. “We just haven’t found them yet,” she says.

Gazel said the research provides a new link between the transition zone layer and the volcanoes on the earth’s surface.

“With this work we can show that the Earth’s transition zone is an extreme chemical reservoir,” he said. “We are now starting to recognize its importance in terms of global geodynamics and even volcanism.”

Read the full study here.

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