Water transportation ability of flat-lying slabs in the mantle transition zone and implications for craton destruction

Zhensheng Wang, Timothy M. Kusky, Fabio A. Capitanio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Water transported by deep subduction to the mantle transition zone (MTZ) that is eventually released and migrates upwards is invoked as a likely cause for hydroweakening and cratonic lithosphere destruction. The destruction of the North China Craton (NCC) during the Mesozoic has been proposed to be related to hydroweakening. However, the source of water related to large-scale craton destruction in the NCC is poorly constrained. Some suggest that the water was mainly released from a flat-lying (or stagnating) slab in the MTZ, whereas others posit that most water was released from a previously existing strongly hydrous MTZ then perturbed by the stagnating subduction in the MTZ layer. In this study, we use numerical modeling to evaluate the water carrying ability of flat-lying slabs in the MTZ with different slab ages and water contents to simulate its maximum value and discuss its potential role on large-scale hydroweakening and craton destruction. Our results reveal that a single flat-lying slab in the MTZ cannot provide enough water for large-scale cratonic lithosphere hydroweakening and thinning. Water estimates invoked for craton destruction as experienced by the NCC can only be the result of long-term piling of multiple slabs in the MTZ or penetrating deeper into the lower mantle.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)95-106
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 16 Jan 2018


  • Craton destruction
  • Lithosphere thinning
  • Mantle hydration
  • Mantle transition zone
  • Stagnating slab

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