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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available February 28, 2023
  2. Abstract

    Large Low Shear Velocity Provinces (LLSVPs) in the lowermost mantle are key to understanding the chemical composition and thermal structure of the deep Earth, but their origins have long been debated. Bridgmanite, the most abundant lower-mantle mineral, can incorporate extensive amounts of iron (Fe) with effects on various geophysical properties. Here our high-pressure experiments and ab initio calculations reveal that a ferric-iron-rich bridgmanite coexists with an Fe-poor bridgmanite in the 90 mol% MgSiO3–10 mol% Fe2O3system, rather than forming a homogeneous single phase. The Fe3+-rich bridgmanite has substantially lower velocities and a higherVP/VSratio than MgSiO3bridgmanite under lowermost-mantle conditions. Our modeling shows thatmore »the enrichment of Fe3+-rich bridgmanite in a pyrolitic composition can explain the observed features of the LLSVPs. The presence of Fe3+-rich materials within LLSVPs may have profound effects on the deep reservoirs of redox-sensitive elements and their isotopes.

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  3. Abstract Calcium carbonate (CaCO3) is one of the most abundant carbonates on Earth's surface and transports carbon to Earth's interior via subduction. Although some petrological observations support the preservation of CaCO3 in cold slabs to lower mantle depths, the geophysical properties and stability of CaCO3 at these depths are not known, due in part to complicated polymorphic phase transitions and lack of constraints on thermodynamic properties. Here we measured thermal equation of state of CaCO3-Pmmn, the stable polymorph of CaCO3 through much of the lower mantle, using synchrotron X-ray diffraction in a laser-heated diamond-anvil cell up to 75 GPa andmore »2200 K. The room-temperature compression data for CaCO3-Pmmn are fit with third-order Birch-Murnaghan equation of state, yielding KT0 = 146.7 (±1.9) GPa and K′0 = 3.4(±0.1) with V0 fixed to the value determined by ab initio calculation, 97.76 Å3. High-temperature compression data are consistent with zero-pressure thermal expansion αT = a0 + a1T with a0 = 4.3(±0.3)×10-5 K-1, a1 = 0.8(±0.2)×10-8 K-2, temperature derivative of the bulk modulus (∂KT/∂T)P = –0.021(±0.001) GPa/K; the Grüneisen parameter γ0 = 1.94(±0.02), and the volume independent constant q = 1.9(±0.3) at a fixed Debye temperature θ0 = 631 K predicted via ab initio calculation. Using these newly determined thermodynamic parameters, the density and bulk sound velocity of CaCO3-Pmmn and (Ca,Mg)-carbonate-bearing eclogite are quantitatively modeled from 30 to 80 GPa along a cold slab geotherm. With the assumption that carbonates are homogeneously mixed into the slab, the results indicate the presence of carbonates in the subducted slab is unlikely to be detected by seismic observations, and the buoyancy provided by carbonates has a negligible effect on slab dynamics.« less
  4. Fe‐Al‐bearing bridgmanite may be the dominant host for ferric iron in Earth's lower mantle. Here we report the synthesis of (Mg0.5Fe3+0.5)(Al0.5Si0.5)O3 bridgmanite (FA50) with the highest Fe3+‐Al3+ coupled substitution known to date. X‐ray diffraction measurements showed that at ambient conditions the FA50 adopted the LiNbO3 structure. Upon compression at room temperature to 18 GPa, it transformed back into the bridgmanite structure, which remained stable up to 102 GPa and 2600 K. Fitting Birch‐Murnaghan equation of state of FA50 bridgmanite yields V 0 = 172.1(4) Å3, K 0 = 229(4) GPa with K 0′ = 4(fixed). The calculated bulk sound velocitymore »of the FA50 bridgmanite is ~7.7% lower than MgSiO3 bridgmanite, mainly because the presence of ferric iron increases the unit‐cell mass by 15.5%. This difference likely represents the upper limit of sound velocity anomaly introduced by Fe3+‐Al3+ substitution. X‐ray emission and synchrotron Mössbauer spectroscopy measurements showed that after laser annealing ~6% of Fe3+ cations exchanged with Al3+ and underwent the high‐spin to low‐spin transition at 59 GPa. The low‐spin proportion of Fe3+ increased gradually with pressure and reached 17‐31% at 80 GPa. Since the cation exchange and spin transition in this Fe3+‐Al3+‐enriched bridgmanite do not cause resolvable unit‐cell volume reduction, and the increase of low‐spin Fe3+ fraction with pressure occurs gradually, the spin transition would not produce a distinct seismic signature in the lower mantle. However, it may influence iron partitioning and isotopic fractionation, thus introducing chemical heterogeneity in the lower mantle.« less
  5. The Earth’s mantle transition zone (MTZ) is often considered an internal reservoir for water because its major minerals wadsleyite and ringwoodite can store several oceans of structural water. Whether it is a hydrous layer or an empty reservoir is still under debate. Previous studies suggested the MTZ may be saturated with iron metal. Here we show that metallic iron reacts with hydrous wadsleyite under the pressure and temperature conditions of the MTZ to form iron hydride or molecular hydrogen and silicate with less than tens of parts per million (ppm) water, implying that water enrichment is incompatible with iron saturationmore »in the MTZ. With the current estimate of water flux to the MTZ, the iron metal preserved from early Earth could transform a significant fraction of subducted water into reduced hydrogen species, thus limiting the hydration of silicates in the bulk MTZ. Meanwhile, the MTZ would become gradually oxidized and metal depleted. As a result, water-rich region can still exist near modern active slabs where iron metal was consumed by reaction with subducted water. Heterogeneous water distribution resolves the apparent contradiction between the extreme water enrichment indicated by the occurrence of hydrous ringwoodite and ice VII in superdeep diamonds and the relatively low water content in bulk MTZ silicates inferred from electrical conductivity studies.« less
  6. Abstract Electronic states of iron in the lower mantle's dominant mineral, (Mg,Fe,Al)(Fe,Al,Si)O3 bridgmanite, control physical properties of the mantle including density, elasticity, and electrical and thermal conductivity. However, the determination of electronic states of iron has been controversial, in part due to different interpretations of Mössbauer spectroscopy results used to identify spin state, valence state, and site occupancy of iron. We applied energy-domain Mössbauer spectroscopy to a set of four bridgmanite samples spanning a wide range of compositions: 10–50% Fe/total cations, 0–25% Al/total cations, 12–100% Fe3+/total Fe. Measurements performed in the diamond-anvil cell at pressures up to 76 GPa belowmore »and above the high to low spin transition in Fe3+ provide a Mössbauer reference library for bridgmanite and demonstrate the effects of pressure and composition on electronic states of iron. Results indicate that although the spin transition in Fe3+ in the bridgmanite B-site occurs as predicted, it does not strongly affect the observed quadrupole splitting of 1.4 mm/s, and only decreases center shift for this site to 0 mm/s at ~70 GPa. Thus center shift can easily distinguish Fe3+ from Fe2+ at high pressure, which exhibits two distinct Mössbauer sites with center shift ~1 mm/s and quadrupole splitting 2.4–3.1 and 3.9 mm/s at ~70 GPa. Correct quantification of Fe3+/total Fe in bridgmanite is required to constrain the effects of composition and redox states in experimental measurements of seismic properties of bridgmanite. In Fe-rich, mixed-valence bridgmanite at deep-mantle-relevant pressures, up to ~20% of the Fe may be a Fe2.5+ charge transfer component, which should enhance electrical and thermal conductivity in Fe-rich heterogeneities at the base of Earth's mantle.« less