Environment

The Earth “Eats” Water

Scientists have discovered that the movement of Earth’s tectonic plates is dragging three times more water into the planet’s interior than thought.

Writing in the journal Nature, Chen Cai of Washington University in St. Louis and his colleagues describe the process of subduction, in which hot ocean-floor plates grind together and pull water deep into the crust and mantle.

By using seismic sensors placed in the Marianas Trench, the team was able to more accurately estimate how much water was being locked up in hydrates and rocks during the process. That stored water is believed to make quakes more likely by lubricating faults.

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