Abstract In the plate tectonic process, lithosphere creation at ocean ridges and its cooling leads to volatile fixation in the oceanic crust. The outer 10 km or so of all crust contains abundant water in pores and fractures and variable amounts of volatiles in minerals. When surface rocks are buried by tectonic processes, fluids must be released and modify the mechanical properties. In the subduction process hydrated oceanic crust may be decoupled from the remaining oceanic lithosphere. At depth rising aqueous fluids or melts lead to a complex series of mass-energy transfer processes which may decouple continental crust near the Moho. Continental crust if subducted, may also be decoupled from its lithosphere by degassing. Fluid release processes which create gas-solid mixtures beneath impermeable cover create low-strength systems subject to facile deformation, hydraulic fracture processes and diapiric phenomena.