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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available July 1, 2023
  2. Abstract A plausible origin of the seismically observed mid-lithospheric discontinuity (MLD) in the subcontinental lithosphere is mantle metasomatism. The metasomatized mantle is likely to stabilize hydrous phases such as amphiboles. The existing electrical conductivity data on amphiboles vary significantly. The electrical conductivity of hornblendite is much higher than that of tremolite. Thus, if hornblendite truly represents the amphibole varieties in MLD regions, then it is likely that amphibole will cause high electrical conductivity anomalies at MLD depths. However, this is inconsistent with the magnetotelluric observations across MLD depths. Hence, to better understand this discrepancy in electrical conductivity data of amphibolesmore »and to evaluate whether MLD could be caused by metasomatism, we determined the electrical conductivity of a natural metasomatized rock sample. The metasomatized rock sample consists of ~87% diopside pyroxene, ~9% sodium-bearing tremolite amphibole, and ~3% albite feldspar. We collected the electrical conductivity data at ~3.0 GPa, i.e., the depth relevant to MLD. We also spanned a temperature range between 400 to 1000 K. We found that the electrical conductivity of this metasomatized rock sample increases with temperature. The temperature dependence of the electrical conductivity exhibits two distinct regimes. At low temperatures <700 K, the electrical conductivity is dominated by the conduction in the solid state. At temperatures >775 K, the conductivity increases, and it is likely to be dominated by the conduction of aqueous fluids due to partial dehydration. The main distinction between the current study and the prior studies on the electrical conductivity of amphiboles or amphibole-bearing rocks is the sodium (Na) content in amphiboles of the assemblage. Moreover, it is likely that the higher Na content in amphiboles leads to higher electrical conductivity. Pargasite and edenite amphiboles are the most common amphibole varieties in the metasomatized mantle, and our study on Na-bearing tremolite is the closest analog of these amphiboles. Comparison of the electrical conductivity results with the magnetotelluric observations constrains the amphibole abundance at MLD depths to <1.5%. Such a low-modal proportion of amphiboles could only reduce the seismic shear wave velocity by 0.4–0.5%, which is significantly lower than the observed velocity reduction of 2–6%. Thus, it might be challenging to explain both seismic and magnetotelluric observations at MLD simultaneously.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available March 1, 2023
  3. Abstract Evaluating carbon’s candidacy as a light element in the Earth’s core is critical to constrain the budget and planet-scale distribution of this life-essential element. Here we use first principles molecular dynamics simulations to estimate the density and compressional wave velocity of liquid iron-carbon alloys with ~4-9 wt.% carbon at 0-360 gigapascals and 4000-7000 kelvin. We find that for an iron-carbon binary system, ~1-4 wt.% carbon can explain seismological compressional wave velocities. However, this is incompatible with the ~5-7 wt.% carbon that we find is required to explain the core’s density deficit. When we consider a ternary system including iron,more »carbon and another light element combined with additional constraints from iron meteorites and the density discontinuity at the inner-core boundary, we find that a carbon content of the outer core of 0.3-2.0 wt.%, is able to satisfy both properties. This could make the outer core the largest reservoir of terrestrial carbon.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2022
  4. Free, publicly-accessible full text available November 1, 2022
  5. Abstract

    Slab surface temperature is one of the key parameters that incur first-order changes in subduction dynamics. However, the current thermal models are based on empirical thermal parameters and do not accurately capture the complex pressure–temperature paths of the subducting slab, prompting significant uncertainties on slab temperature estimations. In this study, we investigate whether the dehydration-melting of glaucophane can be used to benchmark the temperature in the slab. We observe that dehydration and melting of glaucophane occur at relatively low temperatures compared to the principal hydrous phases in the slab and produce highly conductive Na-rich melt. The electrical properties ofmore »glaucophane and its dehydration products are notably different from the hydrous minerals and silicate melts. Hence, we conclude that the thermodynamic instability of glaucophane in the slab provides a unique petrological criterion for tracking temperature in the present-day subduction systems through magnetotelluric profiles.

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  6. Abstract

    The dehydration and decarbonation in the subducting slab are intricately related and the knowledge of the physical properties of the resulting C–H–O fluid is crucial to interpret the petrological, geochemical, and geophysical processes associated with subduction zones. In this study, we investigate the C–H–O fluid released during the progressive devolatilization of carbonate-bearing serpentine-polymorph chrysotile, with in situ electrical conductivity measurements at high pressures and temperatures. The C–H–O fluid produced by carbonated chrysotile exhibits high electrical conductivity compared to carbon-free aqueous fluids and can be an excellent indicator of the migration of carbon in subduction zones. The crystallization of diamondmore »and graphite indicates that the oxidized C–H–O fluids are responsible for the recycling of carbon in the wedge mantle. The carbonate and chrysotile bearing assemblages stabilize dolomite during the devolatilization process. This unique dolomite forming mechanism in chrysotile in subduction slabs may facilitate the transport of carbon into the deep mantle.

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  7. Subduction zones are often characterized by the presence of strong trench-parallel seismic anisotropy and large delay times. Hydrous minerals, owing to their large elastic anisotropy and strong lattice preferred orientations (LPOs), are often invoked to explain these observations. However, the elasticity and the LPO of chloritoid, which is one of such hydrous phases relevant in subduction zone settings, are poorly understood. In this study, we measured the LPO of polycrystalline chloritoid in natural rock samples, obtained the LPO-induced seismic anisotropy, and evaluated the thermodynamic stability field of chloritoid in subduction zones. The LPO of chloritoid aggregates displayed a strong alignmentmore »of the [001] axes subnormal to the rock foliation, with a girdle distribution of the [100] axes and the (010) poles subparallel to the foliation. New elasticity data of single-crystal chloritoid showed a strong elastic anisotropy of chloritoid with 47% for S-waves (V S ) and 22% for P-waves (V P ), respectively. The combination of the LPO and the elastic anisotropy of the chloritoid aggregates produced a strong S-wave anisotropy with a maximum AV S of 18% and a P-wave anisotropy with an AV P of 10%. The role of chloritoid LPO in seismic anisotropy was evaluated in natural rock samples and a hypothetical blueschist. Our results indicate that the strong LPO of chloritoid along the subduction interface and in subducting slabs can influence the trench-parallel seismic anisotropy in subduction zones with “cold” geotherms.« less