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Experimental deformation of forsterite, wadsleyite and ringwoodite: Implications for seismic anisotropy of the Earth's mantle

Abstract : The rheological properties of the major minerals of the Earth's mantle are still not well constrained. However, these properties are crucial for the understanding of a wide range of processes in the Earth's interior such as mantle convection. The purpose of this work is to address the issue of the rheology of the lowermost upper mantle and of the transition zone through the mechanical properties at high pressure of olivine (with forsterite composition Mg2SiO4) and of its high-pressure polymorphs wadsleyite and ringwoodite. Indeed, the properties of the Earth's mantle can be inferred as a first approximation from the mechanical properties of those polymorphs which volumetrically dominate the mineralogy of the region of concern.
Deformation experiments have been performed on hot-pressed forsterite samples and on pre-synthesized wadsleyite and ringwoodite samples under pressure conditions of the Earth's mantle and at 1300-1400°C. The possible influence of the phase transformation from forsterite to wadsleyite on rheology has been also investigated. Deformation has been achieved by shear using the Kawai-type multianvil apparatus. Complementary experiments on forsterite have been performed in the newly developed Deformation-DIA. Some of them have been carried out on a synchrotron beam line to perform in-situ stress and strain measurements. In order to gain a maximum of information on the deformation mechanisms and on the Crystallographic Preferred Orientation (CPO), a special attention has been devoted to the microstructural characterisation of the samples. Electron BackScattering Diffraction (ESBD) and Transmission Electron Microscope (TEM) have been mainly used.
An important pressure-induced change in deformation mechanism is shown in forsterite. The deformation of forsterite at high pressure and temperature is dominated by the [001](hk0) slip system rather than the [100](010) glide which is extensively observed at low pressure and high temperature..
Concerning the high-pressure polymorphs, their plastic behaviour has been studied with a strong emphasis on the formation of CPO. ViscoPlastic Self Consistent (VPSC) modelling is used to link the CPO with known elementary deformation mechanisms of these phases. The main features of the CPO of wadsleyite are characterized by the alignment of the [100] axes parallel to the shear direction and the alignment of the [001] axes toward the normal to the shear plane. Too many uncertainties remain on the ringwoodite CPO for them being used to interpret seismic anisotropy.
Finally, we suggest that strain-induced CPO might be responsible for the seismic anisotropy observed in the lowermost upper mantle and in the upper part of the transition zone. The low seismic anisotropy of the lowermost upper mantle can be explained from the slip system change in forsterite and the CPO of wadsleyite point toward a dominant tangential flow in the upper part of the transition zone.
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Contributor : Hélène Couvy <>
Submitted on : Tuesday, April 12, 2005 - 12:25:36 AM
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Hélène Couvy. Experimental deformation of forsterite, wadsleyite and ringwoodite: Implications for seismic anisotropy of the Earth's mantle. Geophysics [physics.geo-ph]. Université des Sciences et Technologie de Lille - Lille I, 2005. English. ⟨tel-00008992⟩

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