Elasticity of hydrous wadsleyite to 12 GPa: Implications for Earth's transition zone

Zhu Mao, S. D. Jacobsen, F. Jiang, J. R. Smyth, C. M. Holl, T. S. Duffy

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75 Scopus citations


Knowledge of the pressure effect on elasticity of hydrous olivine polymorphs is necessary to model seismic wave speeds for potential hydrous regions of the mantle. Here we report single-crystal elastic properties of wadsleyite, β-Mg2SiO4, with 0.84 wt.% H2O measured to 12 GPa by Brillouin scattering. Pressure derivatives of the aggregate bulk modulus, K'so, and shear modulus, G'o, of hydrous wadsleyite are 4.1(1) and 1.4(1) respectively. These values are indistinguishable within uncertainty from those of anhydrous wadsleyite. We estimate that ∼1 wt.% H2O in wadsleyite at 410-km depth can reconcile seismic bulk sound velocities with a pyrolite-composition mantle by using our measured high-pressure elastic constants. If the H2O content of the mantle is much less than 1 wt.%, then other factors need to be considered to explain the velocity contrast of the 410-km discontinuity. Variations in water content with depth may also contribute to the anomalously steep seismic velocity gradient in the mantle transition zone.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberL21305
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number21
StatePublished - Nov 16 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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