** Progress in Earth and Planetary Science is the official journal of the Japan Geoscience Union, published in collaboration with its 50 society members.

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    • Progress in Earth and Planetary Science
    • Progress in Earth and Planetary Science
    • Progress in Earth and Planetary Science
    • Progress in Earth and Planetary Science
    Progress in Earth and Planetary Science

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    Solid earth sciences


    Fluids and physicochemical properties and processes in the Earth

    Bjorn Mysen

    Fluid, Solubility, Thermodynamics, Mass transport, Permeability, Porosity, Wetting angle

    The Earth's fluid budget is dominated by species in the system C–O–H–N–S together with halogens such as F and Cl. H2O is by far the most abundant. Such fluids are one of the two main mass transport agents (fluid and magma) in the Earth. Among those, in particular aqueous fluids are efficient solvents of geochemically important components at high temperature and pressure. The solution capacity of aqueous fluids can be enhanced further by dissolved halogens and sulfur. CO2 or nitrogen species has the opposite effect.

    Fluid-mediated transport in the Earth is by fluids passing through cracks at shallow depth and via percolation channels along grain boundaries at greater depth. Percolation velocity is linked to permeability, which, in turn is governed by rock porosity. Porosity is controlled by wetting angles, θ, at the interface between fluid and mineral surfaces. When θ < 60°, fluid will wet all grain boundaries of an isotropic crystalline material, whereas when greater than 60°, grain boundary wetting does not occur as readily, and fluid-mediated transport efficiency can be greatly reduced. The size of the wetting angle is negatively correlated with the solubility of silicate components in the fluids, which means that fluid composition, temperature, and pressure affect the wetting angles and, therefore, fluid-mediated mass transport efficiency in the interior of the Earth.

    Geophysical and geochemical anomalies in the Earth's interior have been linked to the presence of fluids. Fluid infiltration in crustal and mantle rocks will enhance electrical conductivity and seismic wave attenuation. For example, 5–10% H2O-rich fluids in the mantle wedge above subducting plates have been suggested from enhanced electrical conductivity. Similar fluid fractions have been suggested to be consistent with seismic velocities in these regions. The geochemistry of the crust and the mantle can be affected by fluid-mediated transport of major, minor, and trace elements. When such altered materials serve as source rocks of partial melts, those geochemical alterations also lead to changes in partial melt compositions. As an example, the presence of such aqueous fluid in the mantle wedge above subducting and dehydrating subducting slabs is consistent with partial melting of an H2O-bearing mantle wedge above subducted oceanic crust.