- Garnet (1) (remove)
- Major element diffusion in garnet and the exsolution of majoritic garnet from aluminous enstatite in Earth's Upper Mantle (2011)
- Majorite is a high pressure polymorph of enstatite with the garnet structure. The amount of enstatite that can be dissolved in garnet as a majorite component increases significantly with pressure, and therefore, majoritic garnet is thought to be a major constituent of the Earth's transition zone. The transport properties of majoritic garnet are, however, not well constrained at the moment. The magnitude of the diffusivity of the majorite component in garnet influences our understanding of the homogenization time scale of Earth's mantle. This is important in subduction zone settings, where the subducting oceanic crust will form a majorite inhomogeneity in the transition zone because of its higher aluminium content. Reaction kinetics in the dry transition zone are diffusion controlled and therefore an improved dataset on the diffusivity of the majorite component in garnet will enable us to better understand the of role of disequilibrium in subduction zones. This dissertation therefore reports the results of diffusion experiments on garnet. Diffusion experiments have been conducted with diffusion couples of majoritic garnet – Dora Maira pyrope, Dora Maira pyrope and Ötztal almandine and Ötztal almandine and majoritic garnet in a multi-anvil press between 1400 – 1900 °C and 12 – 20 GPa. The diffusion experiments with the majoritic garnet – Dora Maira pyrope garnet couples show that the diffusion of the majorite component in garnet is very slow, comparable to the diffusivity of silicon in wadsleyite and ringwoodite. The activation energy, activation volume and the pre-exponential for diffusion of the majorite component in garnet were determined to be 241 ± 54 kJ mol-1, 3.3 ± 0.1 cm3 mol-1 and 2.3 x 10-7 cm2 s-1, respectively. The diffusivity of the majorite component in garnet was determined to be 2-3 orders of magnitude slower than the self-diffusivity of Mg, Fe and Ca in garnet at the same conditions. Also Fe – Mg interdiffusion appeared to be significantly faster in majoritic garnet than in almandine garnet. Comparison with diffusion data on wadsleyite and ringwoodite shows that the diffusivity of the majorite component in garnet is very similar to that of the silicon self-diffusivity in the high-pressure polymorphs of olivine. The diffusion data obtained in this PhD has been used to determine whether solid state diffusion can homogenize the mantle after subduction. The diffusion distance of majoritic garnet has been calculated assuming grain boundary diffusion is the main mechanism, and it can be concluded that solid state diffusion is not able to homogenize the mantle. Next to this, a numerical model has been developed that determines whether diffusion of the majorite component is fast enough such that enstatite can dissolve into garnet during subduction. The results show that there will be a significant delay in case of the lower lithospheric mantle of the subducted slab. Due to its lower tempeture, the oceanic crust can, however, only dissolve a fraction of its pyroxene content and metastable pyroxene is thus expected to be present during subduction into the transition zone. The metastable presence of pyroxene leads to the question to what will happen to its aluminium contents as it is expected to get exsolved as garnet. Experiments were performed on aluminous enstatite at 1700 °C and 15 GPa. It is shown that majoritic garnet exsolves with the dominant topotactic relation being clinoenstatite parallel to <111>garnet. Also a high density of stacking faults were observed with a displacement vector of R = ½[1 1 1] which can be explained by the transformation of HP high-clinoenstaite to low-clinoenstatite. Using the aluminium concentration profiles in clinoenstatite directly adjacent to the garnet precipitates the aluminium diffusivity in HP high-clinoenstatite was determined to be at least 6 x 10-11 cm2 s-1 at 1700 °C and 15 GPa. Comparison with data in diopside shows there is a discrepancy between diffusion data at high pressure and at low pressure, which might indicate a strong dependence of Al diffusivity in clinopyroxene on Ca contents or a change in diffusion mechanism. The results of the experiments conducted in this PhD study show that the low diffusivity of components in the Earth may severely hamper reaction kinetics in the Earth in the case where mass transport is required.