Hydrogen Diffusion in the Lower Mantle Revealed by Machine Learning Potentials

Yihang Peng, Jie Deng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Hydrogen may be incorporated into nominally anhydrous minerals including bridgmanite and post-perovskite as defects, making the Earth's deep mantle a potentially significant water reservoir. The diffusion of hydrogen and its contribution to the electrical conductivity in the lower mantle are rarely explored and remain largely unconstrained. Here we calculate hydrogen diffusivity in hydrous bridgmanite and post-perovskite, using molecular dynamics simulations driven by machine learning potentials of ab initio quality. Our findings reveal that hydrogen diffusivity significantly increases with increasing temperature and decreasing pressure, and is considerably sensitive to hydrogen incorporation mechanism. Among the four defect mechanisms examined, (Mg + 2H)Si and (Al + H)Si show similar patterns and yield the highest hydrogen diffusivity. Hydrogen diffusion is generally faster in post-perovskite than in bridgmanite, and these two phases exhibit distinct diffusion anisotropies. Overall, hydrogen diffusion is slow on geological time scales and may result in heterogeneous water distribution in the lower mantle. Additionally, the proton conductivity of bridgmanite for (Mg + 2H)Si and (Al + H)Si defects aligns with the same order of magnitude of lower mantle conductivity, suggesting that the water distribution in the lower mantle may be inferred by examining the heterogeneity of electrical conductivity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2023JB028333
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

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


  • bridgmanite
  • hydrogen diffusion
  • machine learning
  • molecular dynamics simulations
  • post-perovskite


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