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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2023
  2. Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 25, 2023
  3. Abstract Understanding the mineralogy of the Earth's interior is a prerequisite for unravelling the evolution and dynamics of our planet. Here, we conducted high pressure-temperature experiments mimicking the conditions of the deep lower mantle (DLM, 1800–2890 km in depth) and observed surprising mineralogical transformations in the presence of water. Ferropericlase, (Mg, Fe)O, which is the most abundant oxide mineral in Earth, reacts with H2O to form a previously unknown (Mg, Fe)O2Hx (x≤1) phase. The (Mg, Fe)O2Hx has the pyrite structure and it coexists with the dominant silicate phases, bridgmanite and post-perovskite. Depending on Mg content and geotherm temperatures, the transformation may occur at 1800 km for (Mg0.6Fe0.4)O or beyond 2300 km for (Mg0.7Fe0.3)O. The (Mg, Fe)O2Hx is an oxygen excess phase that stores an excessive amount of oxygen beyond the charge balance of maximum cation valences (Mg2+, Fe3+, and H+). This important phase has a number of far-reaching implications including the extreme redox inhomogeneity, deep-oxygen reservoirs in the DLM, and an internal source for modulating oxygen in the atmosphere.
  4. The distribution and transportation of water in Earth’s interior depends on the stability of water-bearing phases. The transition zone in Earth’s mantle is generally accepted as an important potential water reservoir because its main constituents, wadsleyite and ringwoodite, can incorporate weight percent levels of H2O in their structures at mantle temperatures. The extent to which water can be transported beyond the transition zone deeper into the mantle depends on the water carrying capacity of minerals stable in subducted lithosphere. Stishovite is one of the major mineral components in subducting oceanic crust, yet the capacity of stishovite to incorporate water beyond at lower mantle conditions remains speculative. In this study, we combine in situ laser heating with synchrotron X-ray diffraction to show that the unit cell volume of stishovite synthesized under hydrous conditions is ∼2.3 to 5.0% greater than that of anhydrous stishovite at pressures of ∼27 to 58 GPa and temperatures of 1,240 to 1,835 K. Our results indicate that stishovite, even at temperatures along a mantle geotherm, can potentially incorporate weight percent levels of H2O in its crystal structure and has the potential to be a key phase for transporting and storing water in the lower mantle.

  5. Sub-Neptunes are common among the discovered exoplanets. However, lack of knowledge on the state of matter inH2O-rich setting at high pressures and temperatures (PT) places important limitations on our understanding of this planet type. We have conducted experiments for reactions betweenSiO2andH2O as archetypal materials for rock and ice, respectively, at highPT. We found anomalously expanded volumes of dense silica (up to 4%) recovered from hydrothermal synthesis above ∼24 GPa where theCaCl2-type (Ct) structure appears at lower pressures than in the anhydrous system. Infrared spectroscopy identified strong OH modes from the dense silica samples. Both previous experiments and our density functional theory calculations support up to 0.48 hydrogen atoms per formula unit of (Si1xH4x)O2(x=0.12). At pressures above 60 GPa,H2O further changes the structural behavior of silica, stabilizing a niccolite-type structure, which is unquenchable. From unit-cell volume and phase equilibrium considerations, we infer that the niccolite-type phase may contain H with an amount at least comparable with or higher than that of the Ct phase. Our results suggest that the phases containing both hydrogen and lithophile elements could bemore »the dominant materials in the interiors of water-rich planets. Even for fully layered cases, the large mutual solubility could make the boundary between rock and ice layers fuzzy. Therefore, the physical properties of the new phases that we report here would be important for understanding dynamics, geochemical cycle, and dynamo generation in water-rich planets.

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