Melting of (Mg, Fe)SiO3-Perovskite to 625 Kilobars: Indication of a High Melting Temperature in the Lower Mantle

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Science  22 Oct 1993:
Vol. 262, Issue 5133, pp. 553-555
DOI: 10.1126/science.262.5133.553


The melting curves of two compositions of (Mg,Fe) SiO3-perovskite, the likely dominant mineral phase in the lower mantle, have been measured in a C02 laser-heated diamond cell with direct temperature measurements and in situ detection of melting. At 625 kilobars, the melting temperature is 5000 ± 200 kelvin, independent of composition. Extrapolation to the core-mantle boundary pressure of 1.35 megabar with three different melting relations yields melting temperatures between 7000 and 8500 kelvin. Thus, the temperature at the base of the lower mantle, accepted to lie between 2550 and 2750 kelvin, is only at about one-third of the melting temperature. The large difference between mantle temperature and corresponding melting temperature has several important implications; particularly the temperature sensitivity of the viscosity is reduced thus allowing large lateral temperature variations inferred from seismic tomographic velocity anomalies and systematics found in measured velocity-density functions. Extensive melting of the lower mantle can be ruled out throughout the history of the Earth.