Metal saturation in the upper mantle
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Rohrbach, A and Ballhaus, C and Golla-Schindler, U and Ulmer, P and Kamenetsky, VS and Kuzmin, DV, Metal saturation in the upper mantle, Nature, 449, (7161) pp. 456-458. ISSN 0028-0836 (2007) [Refereed Article]
The oxygen fugacity fO2of the Earth's mantle is one of the fundamental variables in mantle petrology. Through ferric-ferrous iron and carbon-hydrogen-oxygen equilibria, fO2 influences the pressure-temperature positions of mantle solidi and compositions of small-degree mantle melts. Among other parameters, fO2 affects the water storage capacity and rheology of the mantle. The uppermost mantle, as represented by samples and partial melts, is sufficiently oxidized to sustain volatiles, such as H2O and CO2, as well as carbonatitic melts, but it is not known whether the shallow mantle is representative of the entire upper mantle. Using high-pressure experiments, we show here that large parts of the asthenosphere are likely to be metal-saturated. We found that pyroxene and garnet synthesized at >7 GPa in equilibrium with metallic Fe can incorporate sufficient ferric iron that the mantle at >250 km depth is so reduced that an (Fe,Ni)-metal phase may be stable. Our results indicate that the oxidized nature of the upper mantle can no longer be regarded as being representative for the Earth's upper mantle as a whole and instead that oxidation is a shallow phenomenon restricted to an upper veneer only about 250 km in thickness. ©2007 Nature Publishing Group.
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