Subsolidus phase relations and perovskite compressibility in the system MgO-AlO1.5-SiO2 with implications for Earth's lower mantle

Michael J. Walter*, Reidar G. Trønnes, Lora S. Armstrong, Oliver T. Lord, Wendel A. Caldwell, Simon M. Clark

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)


Experimentally determined phase relations in the system MgO-AlO1.5-SiO2 at pressures relevant to the upper part of the lower mantle indicate that Mg-silicate perovskite incorporates aluminum into its structure almost exclusively by a charge-coupled reaction. MgSiO3-rich bulk compositions along the joins MgSiO3-MgAlO2.5 and MgSiO3-MgAl2O4 crystallize assemblages of perovskite coexisting with periclase. MgO-saturated perovskites along these joins have ambient unit cell volumes consistent with those measured and calculated for aluminous perovskite along the charge-coupled substitution join, MgSiO3-AlO1.5. The compressibility of aluminous perovskite along the MgO-saturated joins is not anomalously low as predicted for oxygen-defect perovskites. The bulk moduli, however, are consistent with previous measurements made for aluminous perovskites along the charge-coupled substitution join. These results agree with first-principles calculations showing very limited stability of O-defects in Mg-perovskite at pressures and temperatures corresponding to lower mantle conditions, but are inconsistent with earlier experimental results showing unusually compressive aluminous perovskite. The maximum solubility of alumina in perovskite is ∼25 mol% along the MgSiO3-AlO1.5 join within the ternary MAS-system (i.e. pyrope composition), and the join is apparently binary. Although primitive mantle peridotite compositions are MgO-saturated and fall nearly on the oxygen vacancy join, alumina substitution into perovskite is expected to occur primarily by charge-coupled substitution throughout the lower mantle. The compressibility of aluminous perovskite in primitive mantle is expected to be only a few percent lower than for end member MgSiO3 perovskite.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)62-74
Number of pages13
JournalEarth and Planetary Science Letters
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 15 Aug 2006
Externally publishedYes


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