The Stability of Hydrous Silicates in Earth’s Lower Mantle: Experimental constraints from the System MgO-Al2O3-SiO2-H2O

Tuesday, 16 December 2014: 5:45 PM
Michael J Walter1, Andrew R Thomson2, Weiwei Wang3, Oliver T Lord1, Annette K Kleppe4, Jennifer Ross2 and Simon C Kohn2, (1)University of Bristol, Bristol, BS8, United Kingdom, (2)University of Bristol, Bristol, United Kingdom, (3)University College London, London, United Kingdom, (4)Diamond Light Source, Chilton, United Kingdom
Laser-heated diamond anvil cell experiments were performed at pressures from ~ 30 to 125 GPa on bulk compositions in the system MgO-Al2O3-SiO2-H2O (MASH) to constrain the stability of hydrous phases in Earth’s lower mantle. Phase identification in run products by synchrotron powder diffraction reveals a consistent set of stability relations for the high-pressure, dense hydrous silicate phases D and H. Experiments show that aluminous phase D is stable to ~ 55 GPa. Aluminous phase H becomes stable at ~ 40 GPa and remains stable to higher pressures throughout the lower mantle depth range in both model peridotitic and basaltic lithologies. Preliminary FEG-probe analyses indicate that Phase H is alumina-rich at ~ 50 GPa, with only 5 to 10 wt% each of MgO and SiO2. Variations in ambient unit cell volumes show that Mg-perovskite becomes more aluminous with pressure throughout the pressure range studied, and that Phase H may become more Mg- and Si-rich with pressure. We also find that at pressures above ~ 90 GPa stishovite is replaced in Si-rich compositions by seifertite, at which point there is a corresponding increase in the Al-content of phase H. The melting curves of MASH compositions have been determined using thermal perturbations in power versus temperature curves, and are observed to be shallow with dT/dP slopes of ~ 4K/GPa. Our results show that hydrated peridotitic or basaltic compositions in the lower mantle should be partially molten at all depths along an adiabatic mantle geotherm. Aluminous Phase H will be stable in colder, hydrated subducting slabs, potentially to the core-mantle boundary. Thus, aluminous phase H is the primary vessel for transport of hydrogen to the deepest mantle, but hydrous silicate melt will be the host of hydrogen at ambient mantle temperatures.