Viscosity of MgSiO3 Liquid at Earth’s Mantle Conditions: Implications for an Early Magma Ocean

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Science  07 May 2010:
Vol. 328, Issue 5979, pp. 740-742
DOI: 10.1126/science.1188327

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Understanding the chemical and thermal evolution of Earth requires knowledge of transport properties of silicate melts at high pressure and high temperature. Here, first-principles molecular dynamics simulations show that the viscosity of MgSiO3 liquid varies by two orders of magnitude over the mantle pressure regime. Addition of water systematically lowers the viscosity, consistent with enhanced structural depolymerization. The combined effects of pressure and temperature along model geotherms lead to a 10-fold increase in viscosity with depth from the surface to the base of the mantle. Based on these calculations, efficient heat flux from a deep magma ocean may have exceeded the incoming solar flux early in Earth’s history.

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