H2O storage capacity of olivine and low-Ca pyroxene from 10 to 13 GPa: Consequences for dehydration melting above the transition zone

Travis J. Tenner, Marc M. Hirschmann, Anthony C. Withers, Paola Ardia

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The onset of hydrous partial melting in the mantle above the transition zone is dictated by the H2O storage capacity of peridotite, which is defined as the maximum concentration that the solid assemblage can store at P and T without stabilizing a hydrous fluid or melt. H2O storage capacities of minerals in simple systems do not adequately constrain the peridotite water storage capacity because simpler systems do not account for enhanced hydrous melt stability and reduced H2O activity facilitated by the additional components of multiply saturated peridotite. In this study, we determine peridotite-saturated olivine and pyroxene water storage capacities at 10-13 GPa and 1,350-1,450°C by employing layered experiments, in which the bottom ~2/3 of the capsule consists of hydrated KLB-1 oxide analog peridotite and the top ~1/3 of the capsule is a nearly monomineralic layer of hydrated Mg# 89. 6 olivine. This method facilitates the growth of ~200-μm olivine crystals, as well as accessory low-Ca pyroxenes up to ~50 μm in diameter. The presence of small amounts of hydrous melt ensures that crystalline phases have maximal H2O contents possible, while in equilibrium with the full peridotite assemblage (melt + ol + pyx + gt). At 12 GPa, olivine and pyroxene water storage capacities decrease from ~1,000 to 650 ppm, and ~1,400 to 1,100 ppm, respectively, as temperature increases from 1,350 to 1,450°C. Combining our results with those from a companion study at 5-8 GPa (Ardia et al., in prep.) at 1,450°C, the olivine water storage capacity increases linearly with increasing pressure and is defined by the relation Colivine H2O(ppm) = 57.6(±16)× P(GPa) - 169(±18).Adjustment of this trend for small increases in temperature along the mantle geotherm, combined with experimental determinations of D pyx/olivineH2Ofrom this study and estimates ofDgt/olivineH2O allows for estimation of peridotite H2O storage capacity, which is 440 ± 200 ppm at 400 km. This suggests that MORB source upper mantle, which contains 50-200 ppm bulk H2O, is not wet enough to incite a global melt layer above the 410-km discontinuity. However, OIB source mantle and residues of subducted slabs, which contain 300-1,000 ppm bulk H2O, can exceed the peridotite H2O storage capacity and incite localized hydrous partial melting in the deep upper mantle. Experimentally determined values of D pyx/olivineH2O at 10-13 GPa have a narrow range of 1.35 ±0.13, meaning that olivine is probably the most important host of H2O in the deep upper mantle. The increase in hydration of olivine with depth in the upper mantle may have significant influence on viscosity and other transport properties.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)297-316
Number of pages20
JournalContributions to Mineralogy and Petrology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2012

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgments We gratefully acknowledge the support of the National Science Foundation through grants OCE0623550 and EAR0757903. Reviews by Jed Mosenfelder and Dan Frost aided in providing critical improvements to the paper.


  • 410-km discontinuity
  • Hydrous partial melting
  • Peridotite


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