Former TIMEleSS student Estelle Ledoux is the first author of Deformation Mechanisms, Microstructures, and Seismic Anisotropy of Wadsleyite in the Earth’s Transition Zone, published in gold open-access in AGU’s Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems.
Rocks deep inside the Earth mantle are deforming plastically under the effect of mantle convection. In return, the way minerals accommodate deformation impacts the properties of the whole rock and controls mantle flow. The deformation mechanisms of upper mantle minerals have been studied extensively. The behavior of minerals found deeper in the Earth, however, still remains debated and poorly understood.
Wadsleyite is the high pressure polymorph of olivine and the major phase of the upper part of the mantle transition zone (MTZ) (at 410–520 km depth) and then is suspected to control the deformation of that region of the mantle. Investigations of deformation mechanisms in wadsleyite have been scarce and only made recently possible with in-situ measurements at relevant pressure and temperature.
Here, using in-situ deformation experiments, multigrain X-ray crystallography, literature results, and numerical simulations, we propose a new view of plastic deformation of wadsleyite in the Earth’s MTZ. We show that it will be strongly affected by both temperature and water content. We then provide models that could be used for the seismic detection of its anisotropic behavior and mapping mantle flow using seismic measurements.
New year, and new publication for the TIMEleSS team! Former timeless PhD student Jeff Gay is the first author of Transformation microstructures in pyrolite under stress: Implications for anisotropy in subducting slabs below the 660 km discontinuity, published in the February 15, 2023, issue of Earth and Planetary Science Letters. The publication is a result of a collaboration between partners at the Université de Lille (J. Gay, E. Ledoux, J. Chantel, S. Merkel), WWU Münster (N. Krug, C. Sanchez-Valle) with measurements at the Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron (A. Pakhomova, H.-P. Liermann).
The ‘660’ discontinuity marks the boundary between the upper and lower mantle and is located 660 km below our feet. The is discontinuity often associated with a phase transitions in pyrolite, a model rock composition for the Earth’s mantle. In addition, there are ubiquitous reports of seismic anisotropy below the ‘660’ which are difficult to explain from a mineralogical point of view.
In this study, we implement multigrain crystallography X-ray diffraction in the laser-heated diamond anvil cell in order to track microstructures induced by phase transitions at the pressure and temperature conditions of the discontinuity, around 24 GPa and 1900 K. Before the onset of transformation, pyrolite minerals such as garnet and ringwoodite are isotropic and do not contribute to seismic anisotropy. After the transformation, bridgmanite, the most abundant mineral in the Earth, displays a strong preferred orientation, which we attribute to growth under stress. Other minerals such as davemaoite and ferropericlase are also considered.
The results are used to model anisotropy in a subducting slab, with a prediction of no anisotropy above the ‘660’ and up to 1.28% (0.08 km/s) shear wave splitting below the ‘660’ and provide details on how detailed wave forms can be used to understand the geometry of stress at those depths.
Time to meet again! On Friday Oct 28th, 2022, TIMEleSS members met to discuss anisotropy in the upper mantle and transition zone.
John Keith Magali presented his latest results combining mantle flow models and results from the experiments in TIMEleSS.
Nice work, John!
TIMEleSS members met virtually in September 2021 to discuss on the transition zone. The meeting was led by Estelle Ledoux, PhD student at the Université de Lille.
The meeting was an occasion for Estelle to present her work, get feedback from the rest of the group, prepare for future collaborations, and get ready for her up-coming PhD defense!