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  1. Abstract

    Seismic and mineralogical studies have suggested regions at Earth’s core-mantle boundary may be highly enriched in FeO, reported to exhibit metallic behavior at extreme pressure-temperature (PT) conditions. However, underlying electronic processes in FeO remain poorly understood. Here we explore the electronic structure ofB1-FeO at extreme conditions with large-scale theoretical modeling using state-of-the-art embedded dynamical mean field theory (eDMFT). Fine sampling of the phase diagram reveals that, instead of sharp metallization, compression of FeO at high temperatures induces a gradual orbitally selective insulator-metal transition. Specifically, atPTconditions of the lower mantle, FeO exists in an intermediate quantum critical state, characteristic of strongly correlated electronic matter. Transport in this regime, distinct from insulating or metallic behavior, is marked by incoherent diffusion of electrons in the conductingt2gorbital and a band gap in theegorbital, resulting in moderate electrical conductivity (~105S/m) with modestPTdependence as observed in experiments. Enrichment of solid FeO can thus provide a unifying explanation for independent observations of low seismic velocities and elevated electrical conductivities in heterogeneities at Earth’s mantle base.

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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2025
  2. Abstract

    The high-pressure melting curve of FeO controls key aspects of Earth’s deep interior and the evolution of rocky planets more broadly. However, existing melting studies on wüstite were conducted across a limited pressure range and exhibit substantial disagreement. Here we use an in-situ dual-technique approach that combines a suite of >1000 x-ray diffraction and synchrotron Mössbauer measurements to report the melting curve for Fe1-xO wüstite to pressures of Earth’s lowermost mantle. We further observe features in the data suggesting an order-disorder transition in the iron defect structure several hundred kelvin below melting. This solid-solid transition, suggested by decades of ambient pressure research, is detected across the full pressure range of the study (30 to 140 GPa). At 136 GPa, our results constrain a relatively high melting temperature of 4140 ± 110 K, which falls above recent temperature estimates for Earth’s present-day core-mantle boundary and supports the viability of solid FeO-rich structures at the roots of mantle plumes. The coincidence of the defect order-disorder transition with pressure-temperature conditions of Earth’s mantle base raises broad questions about its possible influence on key physical properties of the region, including rheology and conductivity.

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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2024
  3. Abstract

    Strong small‐scale seismic scatters (<10 km) have been recently observed at 660 km depth, but their origin remains uncertain. We systematically conduct both high‐resolution 2‐D geodynamic computations that include realistic thermodynamic properties, synthetic seismic waveforms, and insight from shallow seismic observations to explore their origin. We demonstrate that neither short‐term subduction, nor long‐term mechanical mantle mixing processes can produce sufficiently strong heterogeneities to explain the origin of such small‐scale seismic scatters. Instead, the intrinsic heterogeneities inside the oceanic lithosphere which subducts into the mantle transition zone and the uppermost lower mantle can explain the observed short‐wavelength scatter waves.

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  4. Abstract

    The transport of hydrogen into Earth's deep interior may have an impact on lower mantle dynamics as well as on the seismic signature of subducted material. Due to the stability of the hydrous phasesδ‐AlOOH (delta phase), MgSiO2(OH)2(phase H), andε‐FeOOH at high temperatures and pressures, their solid solutions may transport significant amounts of hydrogen as deep as the core‐mantle boundary. We have constrained the equation of state, including the effects of a spin crossover in the Fe3+atoms, of (Al, Fe)‐phase H: Al0.84Fe3+0.07Mg0.02Si0.06OOH, using powder X‐ray diffraction measurements to 125 GPa, supported by synchrotron Mössbauer spectroscopy measurements on (Al, Fe)‐phase H andδ‐(Al, Fe)OOH. The changes in spin state of Fe3+in (Al, Fe)‐phase H results in a significant decrease in bulk sound velocity and occurs over a different pressure range (48–62 GPa) compared withδ‐(Al, Fe)OOH (32–40 GPa). Changes in axial compressibilities indicate a decrease in the compressibility of hydrogen bonds in (Al, Fe)‐phase H near 30 GPa, which may be associated with hydrogen bond symmetrization. The formation of (Al, Fe)‐phase H in subducted oceanic crust may contribute to scattering of seismic waves in the mid‐lower mantle (∼1,100–1,550 km). Accumulation of 1–4 wt.% (Al, Fe)‐phase H could reproduce some of the seismic signatures of large, low seismic‐velocity provinces. Our results suggest that changes in the electronic structure of phases in the (δ‐AlOOH)‐(MgSiO2(OH)2)‐(ε‐FeOOH) solid solution are sensitive to composition and that the presence of these phases in subducted oceanic crust could be seismically detectable throughout the lower mantle.

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  5. Abstract

    Small‐scale intraslab heterogeneity is well documented seismically in multiple subduction zones, but its nature remains elusive. Previous efforts have been mostly focusing on the scattering strength at intermediate depth (<350 km), without constraining its evolution as a function of depth. Here, we illustrate that the inter‐source interferometry method, which turns deep earthquakes into virtual receivers, can resolve small‐scale intraslab heterogeneity in the mantle transition zone. The interferometric waveform observations in the Japan subduction zone require weak scattering (<1.0%) within the slab below 410 km. Combining with previous studies that suggest high heterogeneity level (∼2.5%) at intermediate depth, we conclude that the small‐scale intraslab heterogeneity weakens as slabs subduct. We suggest that the heterogeneities are caused by intraslab hydrous minerals, and the decrease in their scattering strength with depth reveals processes associated with dehydration of subducting slabs.

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  6. Abstract

    The radial viscosity of the mantle is generally thought to increase by ∼10–100 times from the upper to lower mantle with a putative, abrupt increase at 660 km depth. Recently, a low viscosity channel (LVC) between 660 and 1,000 km has been suggested. We conduct a series of time‐dependent flow models with viscosity either increasing or decreasing at 660 km depth while tracking slab structure, state‐of‐stress, and geoid. We find that a LVC will lower the amplitude of long wavelength (>5,000 km) geoid highs over slabs, with amplitudes <10 m in height, while increasing the slab dip angle and downdip tension in the upper 300 km of slabs. A viscosity increase at 660 km gives rise to strong downdip compression throughout a slab and this pattern will largely go away with the introduction of the LVC. In addition, the endothermic phase change at 660 km depth can substantially affect the stress distribution within slabs but has a minor influence on the geoid. Models that fit the observed long wavelength geoid and observed focal mechanism in the western Pacific favor models without the presence of the LVC between 660 km and 1,000 km depths.

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  7. Abstract Hydrated sulfates have been identified and studied in a wide variety of environments on Earth, Mars, and the icy satellites of the solar system. The subsurface presence of hydrous sulfur-bearing phases to any extent necessitates a better understanding of their thermodynamic and elastic properties at pressure. End-member experimental and computational data are lacking and are needed to accurately model hydrous, sulfur-bearing planetary interiors. In this work, high-pressure X-ray diffraction (XRD) and synchrotron Fourier-transform infrared (FTIR) measurements were conducted on szomolnokite (FeSO4·H2O) up to ~83 and 24 GPa, respectively. This study finds a monoclinic-triclinic (C2/c to P1) structural phase transition occurring in szomolnokite between 5.0(1) and 6.6(1) GPa and a previously unknown triclinic-monoclinic (P1 to P21) structural transition occurring between 12.7(3) and 16.8(3) GPa. The high-pressure transition was identified by the appearance of distinct reflections in the XRD patterns that cannot be attributed to a second phase related to the dissociation of the P1 phase, and it is further characterized by increased H2O bonding within the structure. We fit third-order Birch-Murnaghan equations of state for each of the three phases identified in our data and refit published data to compare the elastic parameters of szomolnokite, kieserite (MgSO4·H2O), and blödite (Na2Mg(SO4)2·4H2O). At ambient pressure, szomolnokite is less compressible than blödite and more than kieserite, but by 7 GPa both szomolnokite and kieserite have approximately the same bulk modulus, while blödite’s remains lower than both phases up to 20 GPa. These results indicate the stability of szomolnokite’s high-pressure monoclinic phase and the retention of water within the structure up to pressures found in planetary deep interiors. 
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  8. 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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  9. Abstract. Shear properties of mantle minerals are vital for interpreting seismic shear wave speeds and therefore inferring the composition and dynamics of a planetary interior. Shear wave speed and elastic tensor components, from which the shear modulus can be computed, are usually measured in the laboratory mimicking the Earth's (or a planet's) internal pressure and temperature conditions. A functional form that relates the shear modulus to pressure (and temperature) is fitted to the measurements and used to interpolate within and extrapolate beyond the range covered by the data. Assuming a functional form provides prior information, and the constraints on the predicted shear modulus and its uncertainties might depend largely on the assumed prior rather than the data. In the present study, we propose a data-driven approach in which we train a neural network to learn the relationship between the pressure, temperature and shear modulus from the experimental data without prescribing a functional form a priori. We present an application to MgO, but the same approach works for any other mineral if there are sufficient data to train a neural network. At low pressures, the shear modulus of MgO is well-constrained by the data. However, our results show that different experimental results are inconsistent even at room temperature, seen as multiple peaks and diverging trends in probability density functions predicted by the network. Furthermore, although an explicit finite-strain equation mostly agrees with the likelihood predicted by the neural network, there are regions where it diverges from the range given by the networks. In those regions, it is the prior assumption of the form of the equation that provides constraints on the shear modulus regardless of how the Earth behaves (or data behave). In situations where realistic uncertainties are not reported, one can become overconfident when interpreting seismic models based on those defined equations of state. In contrast, the trained neural network provides a reasonable approximation to experimental data and quantifies the uncertainty from experimental errors, interpolation uncertainty, data sparsity and inconsistencies from different experiments. 
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