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  1. Abstract Transport of heat from the interior of the Earth drives convection in the mantle, which involves the deformation of solid rocks over billions of years. The lower mantle of the Earth is mostly composed of iron-bearing bridgmanite MgSiO 3 and approximately 25% volume periclase MgO (also with some iron). It is commonly accepted that ferropericlase is weaker than bridgmanite 1 . Considerable progress has been made in recent years to study assemblages representative of the lower mantle under the relevant pressure and temperature conditions 2,3 . However, the natural strain rates are 8 to 10 orders of magnitude lower than in the laboratory, and are still inaccessible to us. Once the deformation mechanisms of rocks and their constituent minerals have been identified, it is possible to overcome this limitation thanks to multiscale numerical modelling, and to determine rheological properties for inaccessible strain rates. In this work we use 2.5-dimensional dislocation dynamics to model the low-stress creep of MgO periclase at lower mantle pressures and temperatures. We show that periclase deforms very slowly under these conditions, in particular, much more slowly than bridgmanite deforming by pure climb creep. This is due to slow diffusion of oxygen in periclase under pressure. In the assemblage, this secondary phase hardly participates in the deformation, so that the rheology of the lower mantle is very well described by that of bridgmanite. Our results show that drastic changes in deformation mechanisms can occur as a function of the strain rate. 
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  3. Abstract

    The viscosity of Earth’s lower mantle is poorly constrained due to the lack of knowledge on some fundamental variables that affect the deformation behaviour of its main mineral phases. This study focuses on bridgmanite, the main lower mantle constituent, and assesses its rheology by developing an approach based on mineral physics. Following and revising the recent advances in this field, pure climb creep controlled by diffusion is identified as the key mechanism driving deformation in bridgmanite. The strain rates of this phase under lower mantle pressures, temperatures and stresses are thus calculated by constraining diffusion and implementing a creep theoretical model. The viscosity of MgSiO3bridgmanite resulting from pure climb creep is consequently evaluated and compared with the viscosity profiles available from the literature. We show that the inferred variability of viscosity in these profiles can be fully accounted for with the chosen variables of our calculation,e.g., diffusion coefficients, vacancy concentrations and applied stresses. A refinement of these variables is advocated in order to further constrain viscosity and match the observables.

     
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