A Lesson from Ceramics

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Science  11 Jun 1999:
Vol. 284, Issue 5421, pp. 1788-1789
DOI: 10.1126/science.284.5421.1788

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Understanding the processes in Earth's lower mantle requires detailed knowledge of the composition, phase, and physical properties of the mantle minerals, chiefly magnesium silicates with a perovskite structure. Navrotsky (page 1788) argues that lessons can be learned from ceramic perovskites that have been studied in more detail than the silicate perovskites. A defect formation mechanism involving oxygen vacancy formation, coupled with facile hydration, may be operative in the mantle perovskites, with significant consequences for flow properties and water transport in the lower mantle.