New technique for analyzing peridotite boosts temperature estimates
Temperatures across Earth’s mantle are about 60 degrees Celsius higher than previously thought, a new experiment suggests. Such toasty temperatures would make the mantle runnier than earlier research suggested, a development that could help explain the details of how tectonic plates glide on top of the mantle, geophysicists report in the March 3 Science.
“Scientists have been arguing over the mantle temperature for decades,” says study coauthor Emily Sarafian, a geophysicist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts and at MIT. “Scientists will argue over 10 degree changes, so changing it by 60 degrees is quite a large jump.”
The mostly solid mantle sits between Earth’s crust and core and makes up around 84 percent of Earth’s volume. Heat from the mantle fuels volcanic eruptions and drives plate tectonics, but taking the mantle