Incorporation of water in pyrope: a first principles study

Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Venkateswara Rao Manga1, Mainak Mookherjee2 and Krishna Muralidharan1, (1)University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, United States, (2)Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, United States
Pyrope (Mg3Al2Si3O12) rich garnet is the most important secondary mineral phase with volume fractions ranging between 20 % in the shallow upper mantle to 40 % in the lower part of upper mantle. The volume fractions of garnet in subducted oceanic crusts are as high as 80 %. However, our understanding of the incorporation of water in garnet as proton defect is rather limited. Experimental studies conducted at pressures and temperatures relevant to the deep lower mantle have resulted in wide range of water contents ranging between 0 wt % to ~ 0.8 wt %. In a pyriolyte composition representative of the upper mantle, unlike olivine (Mg2SiO4), which remains largely iso-chemical upon compression, garnet undergoes solid solution with pyroxene (MgSiO3) and as a result there is a continuous evolution of the chemistry of garnet as a function of pressure. This complicates the analysis of proton defects using conventional thermodynamics expressing water solubility as a function of water fugacity, oxide activity, and activation volume.

To circumvent this issue, we use first principles simulations to explore the relative energetics of the formation of protons in Mg, Al, and Si sites. Preliminary results at ambient conditions indicate positive enthalpy changes for the proton defects in all the sites, with silicon site being the most favorable. We intend to explore the effect of pressure and temperature on the defect formation energies.

Acknowledgement- MM is supported by the US National Science Foundation grant (EAR-1250477).