When I was young, the hotel rooms in the United Kingdom had the reputation of having a strange plumbing system, with noisy and leaking taps and irrational water flows along endless pipelines. This was of course a cliché entertained by the Froggies, but I like to visualise the cycle of terrestrial volatiles a bit like this. The Earth is a carefully tuned system which continuously exchanges its life-supporting elements between its interior –the mantle– and its surface –the atmosphere, the oceans and the crust– through main flow paths (ridge, arc and intraplate magmatism vs. subduction) but also through a...

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