Evidence for a Fe 3+-rich pyrolitic lower mantle from (Al,Fe)-bearing bridgmanite elasticity data

A. Kurnosov, H. Marquardt*, D. J. Frost, T. Boffa Ballaran, L. Ziberna

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

45 Citations (Scopus)


The chemical composition of Earth's lower mantle can be constrained by combining seismological observations with mineral physics elasticity measurements. However, the lack of laboratory data for Earth's most abundant mineral, (Mg,Fe,Al)(Al,Fe,Si)O 3 bridgmanite (also known as silicate perovskite), has hampered any conclusive result. Here we report single-crystal elasticity data on (Al,Fe)-bearing bridgmanite (Mg 0.9 Fe 0.1 Si 0.9 Al 0.1)O 3 measured using high-pressure Brillouin spectroscopy and X-ray diffraction. Our measurements show that the elastic behaviour of (Al,Fe)-bearing bridgmanite is markedly different from the behaviour of the MgSiO 3 endmember. We use our data to model seismic wave velocities in the top portion of the lower mantle, assuming a pyrolitic mantle composition and accounting for depth-dependent changes in iron partitioning between bridgmanite and ferropericlase. We find excellent agreement between our mineral physics predictions and the seismic Preliminary Reference Earth Model down to at least 1,200 kilometres depth, indicating chemical homogeneity of the upper and shallow lower mantle. A high Fe 3+/Fe 2+ ratio of about two in shallow-lower-mantle bridgmanite is required to match seismic data, implying the presence of metallic iron in an isochemical mantle. Our calculated velocities are in increasingly poor agreement with those of the lower mantle at depths greater than 1,200 kilometres, indicating either a change in bridgmanite cation ordering or a decrease in the ferric iron content of the lower mantle.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)543-546
Number of pages4
Issue number7646
Early online date13 Mar 2017
Publication statusPublished - 23 Mar 2017

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