Abstract

The dense hydrous-magnesium silicate phase D, which has the ideal formula MgSi2H2O6, may be an important link in a chain of hydrous phases that carry H2O in the ultramafic portions of subducting lithosphere, into the Earth’s lower mantle. We have synthesized a new Al-rich form of phase D, containing up to 50 wt% Al2O3, using a multi-anvil device at ~1300 °C and 25 GPa. The phase, with the formula Mg0.2Fe0.15Al1.8H1.8SiO6, was initially produced in a bulk composition designed to synthesize Al- and Fe-rich magnesium silicate perovskite with a composition similar to that produced in experiments on mid-ocean ridge basalt bulk compositions at lower mantle conditions. Further experiments using a starting mixture based on the composition of this Al-rich phase resulted in the synthesis of 60–70 μm long single crystals at similar conditions. The recovered crystals were slightly richer in H2O (Mg0.2Fe0.12Al1.5Si0.92H3.1O6) and their unit-cell parameters were similar to those of MgSi2H2O6 phase D. A refinement of the crystal structure was carried out in the P3̅1m space group and revealed a more disordered cation distribution than magnesium silicate phase D. All cation-oxygen distances are similar, suggesting a high degree of Si/Al disorder. Although the stability field of this new variant of phase D is yet to be determined, this phase may be an important host for H2O within portions of subducted oceanic crust in the lower mantle.

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