The effect of large melt fraction on the deformation behavior of peridotite

T. Scott, D. L. Kohlstedt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

73 Scopus citations


To determine the influence of a large melt fraction, 0.15 ≤ φ{symbol} ≤ 0.30, on the rheological behavior of partially molten rocks, we performed a series of high-temperature, triaxial compressive creep experiments on dry, synthetic peridotites in both the diffusion and dislocation creep regimes. We deformed samples with an olivine grain size of either 10 or 50 μm in a gas-medium apparatus at a confining pressure of 300 MPa and temperatures from 1498 to 1556 K. Stress vs. strain rate data reveal a drop in rock viscosity of several orders of magnitude when the melt fraction is increased from φ{symbol} = 0.25 to φ{symbol} = 0.30, indicative of a rheologically critical melt fraction (RCMF). In all of these experiments, we observed only a small amount of grain growth. Over the range 0 ≤ φ{symbol} ≤ 0.25, the flow behavior in both the diffusion and grain size sensitive dislocation creep regimes is well described by the published flow law for partially molten samples of olivine + MORB deformed under anhydrous conditions in which ε ̇ ∝ exp(αφ{symbol}) with α = 21 for diffusion creep (Newtonian) and α = 32 for dislocation-accommodated GBS (grain boundary sliding) creep.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)177-187
Number of pages11
JournalEarth and Planetary Science Letters
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Jun 30 2006

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We would like to thank Florian Heidelbach for performing the EBSD analysis at the Bayerisches Geoinstitut as well as Justin Hustoft, Ben Holtzman, Saswata Hier-Majumder, Nate Groebner and Mark Zimmerman for thoughtful conversations and technical assistance. An anonymous reviewer provided helpful comments. This work was supported by NSF grant EAR-0327143.


  • RCMF
  • creep
  • melt
  • olivine
  • viscosity


Dive into the research topics of 'The effect of large melt fraction on the deformation behavior of peridotite'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this