Asymmetric Phase Effects and Mantle Convection Patterns

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Science  24 Jun 1994:
Vol. 264, Issue 5167, pp. 1904-1907
DOI: 10.1126/science.264.5167.1904


Recent high-pressure experiments and thermodynamic calculations have shown that the Clapeyron slope of the spinel-perovskite phase transition at a depth of 660 kilometers in the Earth's mantle changes from negative to positive at temperatures above 1700° to 2000°C. In numerical experiments that account for this phase behavior, cold downwelling flows were impeded at the phase boundary, but hot plumes ascended to the upper mantle with ease. The resultant mantle convection was partially layered and strongly time-dependent. Mantle layering was weaker when the mantle was hotter and when the Rayleigh number was larger.