Melting in the FeOSiO2 system to deep lower-mantle pressures: Implications for subducted Banded Iron Formations

Chie Kato, Kei Hirose, Ryuichi Nomura, Maxim D. Ballmer, Akira Miyake, Yasuo Ohishi

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14 Citations (Scopus)


Banded iron formations (BIFs), consisting of layers of iron oxide and silica, are far denser than normal mantle material and should have been subducted and sunk into the deep lower mantle. We performed melting experiments on Fe2SiO4 from 26 to 131 GPa in a laser-heated diamond-anvil cell (DAC). The textural and chemical characterization of a sample recovered from the DAC revealed that SiO2 is the liquidus phase for the whole pressure range examined in this study. The chemical compositions of partial melts are very rich in FeO, indicating that the eutectic melt compositions in the FeOSiO2 binary system are very close to the FeO end-member. The eutectic temperature is estimated to be 3540±150 K at the core-mantle boundary (CMB), which is likely to be lower than the temperature at the top of the core at least in the Archean and Paleoproterozoic eons, suggesting that subducted BIFs underwent partial melting in a thermal boundary layer above the CMB. The FeO-rich melts formed by partial melting of the BIFs were exceedingly dense and therefore migrated downward. We infer that such partial melts have caused iron enrichment in the bottom part of the mantle, which may have contributed to the formation of ultralow velocity zones (ULVZs) observed today. On the other hand, solid residues left after the segregation of the FeO-rich partial melts have been almost pure SiO2, and therefore buoyant in the deep lower mantle to be entrained in mantle upwellings. They have likely been stretched and folded repeatedly by mantle flow, forming SiO2 streaks within the mantle "marble cake". Mantle packages enhanced by SiO2 streaks may be the origin of seismic scatterers in the mid-lower mantle.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)56-61
Number of pages6
JournalEarth and Planetary Science Letters
Publication statusPublished - Apr 15 2016
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science


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