Concept: Andrija Mohorovi ić
The high water storage capacity of minerals in Earth’s mantle transition zone (410- to 660-kilometer depth) implies the possibility of a deep H2O reservoir, which could cause dehydration melting of vertically flowing mantle. We examined the effects of downwelling from the transition zone into the lower mantle with high-pressure laboratory experiments, numerical modeling, and seismic P-to-S conversions recorded by a dense seismic array in North America. In experiments, the transition of hydrous ringwoodite to perovskite and (Mg,Fe)O produces intergranular melt. Detections of abrupt decreases in seismic velocity where downwelling mantle is inferred are consistent with partial melt below 660 kilometers. These results suggest hydration of a large region of the transition zone and that dehydration melting may act to trap H2O in the transition zone.
Seismological observations show that, in some regions of the lower mantle, an increase in bulk sound velocity, interestingly, occurs in the same volume where there is a decrease in shear velocity. We show that this anti-correlated behavior occurs on cation substitution in bridgmanite by making single crystal elasticity measurements of MgSiO3 and (Mg,Fe,Al)(Si,Al)O3 using inelastic x-ray scattering in the ambient conditions. Cation substitution of ferrous iron and aluminum may explain large low shear velocity provinces in the lower mantle.