Structure and Stability of High-Pressure Dolomite with Implications for the Earth's Deep Carbon Cycle
Monday, 15 December 2014
Carbon is subducted into the mantle primarily in the form of metasomatically calcium-enriched basaltic rock, calcified serpentinites and carbonaceous ooze. The fate of these carbonates in subduction zones is not well understood. End-member CaMg(CO3)2 dolomite typically breaks down into two carbonates at 2-7 GPa, which may further decompose to oxides and CO2-bearing fluid. However, high-pressure X-ray diffraction experiments have recently shown that the presence of iron may be sufficient to stabilize dolomite I to high pressures, allowing the transformation to dolomite II at 17 GPa and subsequently to dolomite III at 35 GPa . Such phases may be a principal host for deeply subducted carbon. The structure and equation of state of these high-pressure phases is debated and the effect of varying concentrations of iron is unknown, creating a need for theoretical calculations. Here we compare calculated dolomite structures to experimentally observed phases. Using the Vienna ab-initio simulation package (VASP) interfaced with a genetic algorithm that predicts crystal structures (USPEX), a monoclinic phase with space group 5 ("dolomite sg5") was found for pure end-member dolomite. Dolomite sg5 has a lower energy than reported dolomite structures and an equation of state that resembles that of dolomite III. It is possible that dolomite sg5 is not achieved experimentally due to a large energy barrier and a correspondingly large required volume drop, resulting in the transformation to metastable dolomite II. Due to the complex energy landscape for candidate high-pressure dolomite structures, it is likely that several competing polymorphs exist. Determining the behavior of high-pressure Ca-Mg-Fe(-Mn) dolomite phases in subduction environments is critical for our understanding of the Earth’s deep carbon cycle and supercell calculations with Fe substitution are in progress.  Mao, Z., Armentrout, M., Rainey, E., Manning, C. E., Dera, P., Prakapenka, V. B., and Kavner, A. (2011). Dolomite III: A new candidate lower mantle carbonate. Geophy. Res. Lett., 38(22).  Merlini, M., Crichton, W. A., Hanfland, M., Gemmi, M., Müller, H., Kupenko, I., and Dubrovinsky, L. (2012). Structures of dolomite at ultrahigh pressure and their influence on the deep carbon cycle. Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci., 109(34), 13509-13514.