Abstract

Phase relations in the Na2CO3-MgCO3 system have been studied in high-pressure high-temperature (HPHT) multi-anvil experiments using graphite capsules at 6.0 ± 0.5 GPa pressures and 900–1400 °C temperatures. Sub-solidus assemblages are represented by Na2CO3+Na2Mg(CO3)2 and Na2Mg(CO3)2+MgCO3, with the transition boundary near 50 mol% MgCO3 in the system. The Na2CO3-Na2Mg(CO3)2 eutectic is established at 1200 °C and 29 mol% MgCO3. Melting of Na2CO3 occurs between 1350 and 1400 °C. We propose that Na2Mg(CO3)2 disappears between 1200 and 1250 °C via congruent melting. Magnesite remains as a liquidus phase above 1300 °C. Measurable amounts of Mg in Na2CO3 suggest an existence of MgCO3 solid-solutions in Na2CO3 at given experimental conditions. The maximum MgCO3 solubility in Na-carbonate of about 9 mol% was established at 1100 and 1200 °C.

The Na2CO3 and Na2Mg(CO3)2 compounds have been studied using in situ X-ray coupled with a DIA-type multi-anvil apparatus. The studies showed that eitelite is a stable polymorph of Na2Mg(CO3)2 at least up to 6.6 GPa and 1000 °C. In contrast, natrite, γ-Na2CO3, is not stable at high pressure and is replaced by β-Na2CO3. The latter was found to be stable at pressures up to 11.7 GPa at 27 °C and up to 15.2 GPa at 1200 °C and temperatures at least up to 800 °C at 2.5 GPa and up to 1000 °C at 6.4 GPa. The X-ray and Raman study of recovered samples showed that, under ambient conditions, β-Na2CO3 transforms back to γ-Na2CO3.

Eitelite [Na2Mg(CO3)2] would be an important mineral controlling insipient melting in subducting slab and upwelling mantle. At 6 GPa, melting of the Na2Mg(CO3)2+MgCO3 assemblage can be initiated, either by heating to 1300 °C under “dry” conditions or at 900–1100 °C under hydrous conditions. Thus, the Na2Mg(CO3)2 could control the solidus temperature of the carbonated mantle under “dry” conditions and cause formation of the Na- and Mg-rich carbonatite melts similar to those found as inclusions in olivines from kimberlites and the deepest known mantle rock samples—sheared peridotite xenoliths (190–230 km depth).

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