Some recent advances in understanding the mineralogy of Earth's deep mantle

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Understanding planetary structure and evolution requires a detailed knowledge of the properties of geological materials under the conditions of deep planetary interiors. Experiments under the extreme pressure-temperature conditions of the deep mantle are challenging, and many fundamental properties remain poorly constrained or are inferred only through uncertain extrapolations from lower pressure-temperature states. Nevertheless, the last several years have witnessed a number of new developments in this area, and a broad overview of the current understanding of the Earth's lower mantle is presented here. Some recent experimental and theoretical advances related to the lowermost mantle are highlighted. Measurements of the equation of state and deformation behaviour of (Mg,Fe)SiO3 in the CaIrO3-type (post-perovskite) structure yield insights into the nature of the core-mantle boundary region. Theoretical studies of the behaviour of MgSiO3 liquids under high pressure-temperature conditions provide constraints on melt volumes, diffusivities and viscosities that are relevant to understanding both the early Earth (e.g. deep magma oceans) and seismic structure observed in the present Earth (e.g. ultra-low-velocity zones).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4273-4293
Number of pages21
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences
Issue number1883
StatePublished - Nov 28 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Engineering
  • General Physics and Astronomy
  • General Mathematics


  • Earth interior
  • Mantle
  • MgSiO
  • Post-perovskite
  • Silicate liquids


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