Ultradeep (Greater Than 300 Kilometers), Ultramafic Upper Mantle Xenoliths

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Science  25 May 1990:
Vol. 248, Issue 4958, pp. 993-996
DOI: 10.1126/science.248.4958.993


Geophysical discontinuities in Earth's upper mantle and experimental data predict the structural transformation of pyroxene to garnet and the solid-state dissolution of pyroxene into garnet with increasing depth. These predictions are indirectly verified by omphacitic pyroxene exsolution in pyropic garnet-bearing xenoliths from a diamondiferous kimberlite. Conditions for silicon in octahedral sites in the original garnets are met at pressures greater than 130 kilobars, placing the origin of these xenoliths at depths of 300 to 400 kilometers. These ultradeep xenoliths support the theory that the 400-km seismic discontinuity is marked by a transition from peridotite to eclogite.

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