Ferric iron in mantle-derived garnets - Implications for thermobarometry and for the oxidation state of the mantle

Robert W. Luth*, David Virgo, Francis R. Boyd, Bernard J. Wood

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    159 Citations (Scopus)


    The oxidation state of a mantle assemblage may be defined by heterogeneous reactions between oxygen and iron-bearing minerals. In spinel lherzolites, the presence of Fe3+ in spinel allows use of the assemblage olivine-orthopyroxene-spinel to define fO2 at fixed T and P. As a first step towards establishing an analogous reaction for garnet lherzolites, garnets from mantle-derived xenoliths from South Africa and the USSR have been analyzed with 57Fe Mössbauer spectroscopy at 298 and 77K to determine Fe3+/Fe2+ and the coordination state of iron. Garnets from South African alkremites (pyrope+Mg-spinel) and eclogites, as well as garnet-spinel and low-temperature garnet lherzolites from both South Afica and the USSR, have Fe3+/ΣFe<0.07. In contrast, garnets from high-temperature garnet lherzolites from within the Kaapvaal craton of South Africa have Fe3+/ΣFe>0.10. Ferric iron is octahedrally coordinated, and ferrous iron is present in the dodecahedral site in all samples. The occurrence of significant Fe3+ in these garnets necessitates caution in the use of geothermometers and geobarometers that are applied to mantle samples. For example, the presence of ∼12% of the Fe as Fe3+ in garnets can increase temperatures calculated from existing Fe/Mg geothermometers by>200°C. The concomitant increase in pressures calculated from geobarometers that use the Al content in orthopyroxene coexisting with garnet are ∼10-15 kbar. Results of calculations based on heterogeneous equilibria between garnet, olivine, and pyroxene are consistent with the derivation of the peridotite samples from source regions that are relatively oxidized, between the fO2 of the FMQ (quartz-fayalite-magnetite) buffer and that of the WM buffer. No samples yield values of fO2 as reduced as IW (iron-wüstite buffer).

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)56-72
    Number of pages17
    JournalContributions to Mineralogy and Petrology
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - Jan 1990


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