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Nature Communications, 10, 5680, (2019) [doi: 10.1038/s41467-019-13482-x]

Kinetics and detectability of the bridgmanite to post-perovskite transformation in the Earth's D″ layer

C. Langrand, D. Andrault, S. Durand, Z. Konôpková, N. Hilairet, C. Thomas, S. Merkel

Bridgmanite, the dominant mineral in the Earth’s lower mantle, crystallizes in the perovskite structure and transforms into post-perovskite at conditions relevant for the D′′ layer. This transformation affects the dynamics of the Earth’s lowermost mantle and can explain a range of seismic observations. The thickness over which the two phases coexist, however, can extend over 100 km, casting doubt on the assignment of the observed seismic boundaries. Here, experiments show that the bridgmanite to post-perovskite transition in (Mg0.86,Fe0.14)SiO3 is fast on geological timescales. The transformation kinetics, however, affects reflection coefficients of P and S waves by more than one order of magnitude. Thick layers of coexisting bridgmanite and post-perovskite can hence be detected using seismic reflections. Morever, the detection and wave period dependence of D′′ reflections can be used to constrain significant features of the Earth’s lowermost mantle, such as the thickness of the coexistence layer, and obtain information on temperature and grain sizes.

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© Sébastien Merkel, Université de Lille, France

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