Report

Melting of Peridotite to 140 Gigapascals

Science  17 Sep 2010:
Vol. 329, Issue 5998, pp. 1516-1518
DOI: 10.1126/science.1192448

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Abstract

Interrogating physical processes that occur within the lowermost mantle is a key to understanding Earth’s evolution and present-day inner composition. Among such processes, partial melting has been proposed to explain mantle regions with ultralow seismic velocities near the core-mantle boundary, but experimental validation at the appropriate temperature and pressure regimes remains challenging. Using laser-heated diamond anvil cells, we constructed the solidus curve of a natural fertile peridotite between 36 and 140 gigapascals. Melting at core-mantle boundary pressures occurs at 4180 ± 150 kelvin, which is a value that matches estimated mantle geotherms. Molten regions may therefore exist at the base of the present-day mantle. Melting phase relations and element partitioning data also show that these liquids could host many incompatible elements at the base of the mantle.

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