Effects of spin transition on diffusion of Fe2+ in ferropericlase in Earth's lower mantle

Saumitra Saha, Amelia Bengtson, Katherine L. Crispin, James A. Van Orman, Dane Morgan

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Knowledge of Fe composition in lower-mantle minerals (primarily perovskite and ferropericlase) is essential to a complete understanding of the Earth's interior. Fe cation diffusion potentially controls many aspects of the distribution of Fe in the Earth's lower mantle, including mixing of chemical heterogeneities, element partitioning, and the extent of core-mantle communications. Fe in ferropericlase has been shown to undergo a spin transition starting at about 40 GPa and exists in a mixture of high-spin and low-spin states over a wide range of pressures. Present experimental data on Fe transport in ferropericlase is limited to pressures below 35 GPa and provides little information on the pressure dependence of the activation volume and none on the impact of the spin transition on diffusion. Therefore, known experimental data on Fe diffusion cannot be reliably extrapolated to predict diffusion throughout the lower mantle. Here, first-principles and statistical modeling are combined to predict diffusion of Fe in ferropericlase over the entire lower mantle, including the effects of the Fe spin transition. A thorough statistical thermodynamic treatment is given to fully incorporate the coexistence of high- and low-spin Fe in the model of overall Fe diffusion in the lower mantle. Pure low-spin Fe diffuses approximately 104 times slower than high-spin Fe in ferropericlase but Fe diffusion of the mixed-spin state is only about 10 times slower than that of high-spin Fe. The predicted Fe diffusivities demonstrate that ferropericlase is unlikely to be rate limiting in transporting Fe in deep earth since much slower Fe diffusion in perovskite is predicted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number184102
JournalPhysical Review B - Condensed Matter and Materials Physics
Issue number18
StatePublished - Nov 8 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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