Phase transitions in orthopyroxene (En90) to 49GPa from single-crystal X-ray diffraction

Gregory J. Finkelstein, Przemyslaw K. Dera, Thomas S. Duffy

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42 Scopus citations


Synchrotron-based high-pressure single-crystal X-ray diffraction experiments were conducted on ~Mg0.9Fe0.1SiO3 (En90) orthopyroxene crystals at room temperature to a maximum pressure of 48.5GPa. The sample was compressed in a diamond anvil cell with a neon pressure-transmitting medium and a gold pressure calibrant. In addition to the previously described orthopyroxene to β-opx transition (designated HPCEN2 in previous studies), we observe two further phase transitions at 29.9GPa and 40.3GPa. However, we do not observe the γ-opx phase recently described in an Fe-rich orthopyroxene composition. The structures of both of the new phases were solved in space group Pca21. While their Mg-O layers remain pyroxene-like, their Si-O layers transform in a stepwise fashion to akimotoite-like sheets, with sites in 4-, 4+1-, or 6-fold coordination, depending on the specific structure and layer. Due to the increased Si-O coordination number, we designate the new structures α- and β-post-orthopyroxene (α-popx and β-popx). α-popx has one Si-O layer that is entirely tetrahedral, and one layer that contains both tetrahedra and 4+1-coordinated Si in distorted square pyramids. β-popx retains the mixed 4- and 4+1-coordinated Si layer found in α-popx, while the other Si layer adopts fully octahedral coordination. The α- and β-popx structures show a progressive transformation towards the arrangement of Si layers found in akimotoite, a potentially important phase in the earth's transition zone. Metastable transformations in pyroxenes are of interest for understanding possible metastability in geological environments such as subducting slabs and meteorite impacts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)78-86
Number of pages9
JournalPhysics of the Earth and Planetary Interiors
StatePublished - Jul 1 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Geophysics
  • Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • Crystallography
  • High pressure
  • Orthopyroxene
  • Phase transition
  • Single-crystal X-ray diffraction


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