Geophysical and geochemical constraints on geoneutrino fluxes from Earth's mantle

Ondřej Šrámek, William F. McDonough, Edwin S. Kite, Vedran Lekić, Stephen T. Dye, Shijie Zhong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

87 Citations (Scopus)


Knowledge of the amount and distribution of radiogenic heating in the mantle is crucial for understanding the dynamics of the Earth, including its thermal evolution, the style and planform of mantle convection, and the energetics of the core. Although the flux of heat from the surface of the planet is robustly estimated, the contributions of radiogenic heating and secular cooling remain poorly defined. Constraining the amount of heat-producing elements in the Earth will provide clues to understanding nebula condensation and planetary formation processes in early Solar System. Mantle radioactivity supplies power for mantle convection and plate tectonics, but estimates of mantle radiogenic heat production vary by a factor of more than 20. Recent experimental results demonstrate the potential for direct assessment of mantle radioactivity through observations of geoneutrinos, which are emitted by naturally occurring radionuclides. Predictions of the geoneutrino signal from the mantle exist for several established estimates of mantle composition. Here we present novel analyses, illustrating surface variations of the mantle geoneutrino signal for models of the deep mantle structure, including those based on seismic tomography. These variations have measurable differences for some models, allowing new and meaningful constraints on the dynamics of the planet. An ocean based geoneutrino detector deployed at several strategic locations will be able to discriminate between competing compositional models of the bulk silicate Earth.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)356-366
Number of pages11
JournalEarth and Planetary Science Letters
Publication statusPublished - 2013 Jan 1
Externally publishedYes


  • Bulk silicate Earth composition
  • Depleted mantle composition
  • Earth's heat budget
  • Geoneutrinos
  • Thermochemical mantle piles

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science


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