Research ArticleGEOLOGY

Transport properties of carbonated silicate melt at high pressure

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Science Advances  06 Dec 2017:
Vol. 3, no. 12, e1701840
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1701840

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Carbon dioxide, generally considered as the second most abundant volatile component in silicate magmas, is expected to significantly influence various melt properties. In particular, our knowledge about its dynamical effects is lacking over most of Earth’s mantle pressure regime. Here, we report the first-principles molecular dynamics results on the transport properties of carbonated MgSiO3 liquid under conditions of mantle relevance. They show that dissolved CO2 systematically enhances the diffusion rates of all elements and lowers the melt viscosity on average by factors of 1.5 to 3 over the pressure range considered. It is remarkable that CO2 has very little or no influence on the electrical conductivity of the silicate melt under most conditions. Simulations also predict anomalous dynamical behavior, increasing diffusivity and conductivity and decreasing viscosity with compression in the low-pressure regime. This anomaly and the concomitant increase of pressure and temperature with depth together make these transport coefficients vary modestly over extended portions of the mantle regime. It is possible that the melt electrical conductivity under conditions corresponding to the 410- and 660-km seismic discontinuities is at a detectable level by electromagnetic sounding observation. In addition, the low melt viscosity values of 0.2 to 0.5 Pa⋅s at these depths and near the core-mantle boundary may imply high mobility of possible melts in these regions.

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