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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. Deeply subducted carbonates likely cause low-degree melting of the upper mantle and thus play an important role in the deep carbon cycle. However, direct seismic detection of carbonate-induced partial melts in the Earth’s interior is hindered by our poor knowledge on the elastic properties of carbonate melts. Here we report the first experimentally determined sound velocity and density data on dolomite melt up to 5.9 GPa and 2046 K by in-situ ultrasonic and sink-float techniques, respectively, as well as first-principles molecular dynamics simulations of dolomite melt up to 16 GPa and 3000 K. Using our new elasticity data, the calculated V P /V S ratio of the deep upper mantle (∼180–330 km) with a small amount of carbonate-rich melt provides a natural explanation for the elevated V P /V S ratio of the upper mantle from global seismic observations, supporting the pervasive presence of a low-degree carbonate-rich partial melt (∼0.05%) that is consistent with the volatile-induced or redox-regulated initial melting in the upper mantle as argued by petrologic studies. This carbonate-rich partial melt region implies a global average carbon (C) concentration of 80–140 ppm. by weight in the deep upper mantle source region, consistent with the mantle carbon content determined from geochemical studies. 
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  4. Abstract

    Dense Fe‐Ti‐rich cumulates, formed as the last dregs of the lunar magma ocean, are thought to have driven a large‐scale overturn of the lunar mantle over 4 Ga ago. Analysis of lunar seismic data has implied that some of the overturned bodies may have reached the lunar core‐mantle boundary and remained there until the present day as a partially molten layer. However, whether such a molten layer could be stable during >4 Ga of post‐magma‐ocean lunar history and explain lunar seismic observations remains poorly constrained. Here, we report the first sound velocity measurements on a Fe‐Ti‐rich lunar melt up to conditions of the lowermost lunar mantle. Our results suggest that a partial melt layer with at least 20% overturned Fe‐Ti‐rich melt can be trapped atop the lunar core‐mantle boundary until the present day, strongly influencing the thermochemical evolution of the lunar interior.

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  5. 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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