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Published July 10, 1991 | Published
Journal Article Open

The Equation of State of a Molten Komatiite. 1. Shock Wave Compression to 36 GPa


The equation of state (EOS) of an initially molten (1550°C) komatiite (27 wt % MgO) was determined in the 5–36 GPa pressure range via shock wave compression. Shock wave velocity U_s and particle velocity U_p (kilometers/second) follow the linear relationship U_s = 3.13(±0.03) + 1.47(±0.03) U_p . Based on a calculated density at 1550°C, 0 bar of 2.745±0.005 g/cm^3, this U_s -U_p relationship gives the isentropic bulk modulus K_s = 27.0 ± 0.6 GPa, and its first and second isentropic pressure derivatives, K′_s = 4.9 ±0.1 and K″_s = −0.109 ± 0.003 GPa^(−1). The calculated liquidus compression curve agrees within error with the static compression results of Agee and Walker (1988) to 6 GPa but is less dense than their extrapolated values at higher pressures. We determine that olivine (FO_(94)) will be neutrally buoyant in komatiitic melt of the composition that we studied near 8.2 GPa. Clinopyroxene would also be neutrally buoyant near this pressure. Liquidus garnet-majorite may be less dense than this komatiitic liquid in the 20–24 GPa interval; however, pyropic-garnet and perovskite phases are denser than this komatiitic liquid in their respective liquidus pressure intervals to 36 GPa. Liquidus perovskite may be neutrally buoyant near 70 GPa. At 40 GPa, the density of shock-compressed molten komatiite would be approximately equal to the calculated density of an equivalent mixture of dense solid oxide components. This observation supports the model of Rigden et al. (1989) for compressibilities of liquid oxide components. Using their theoretical EOS for liquid forsterite and fayalite, we calculate the densities of a spectrum of melts from basaltic through peridotitic that are related to the experimentally studied komatiitic liquid by addition or subtraction of olivine. At low pressure, olivine fractionation lowers the density of basic magmas, but above 13–14 GPa this trend is reversed. All of these basic to ultrabasic liquids are predicted to have similar densities at 13–14 GPa, and this density is approximately equal to the density of the bulk (preliminary reference Earth model) mantle in this pressure range. This suggests that melts derived from a peridotitic mantle may be inhibited from ascending from depths greater than 400 km.

Additional Information

© 1991 American Geophysical Union. Received 19 March 1990; accepted 24 April 1991. We thank G. Fine at Coming Technical Center, Coming, New York, for the komatiite starting materials. M. Long, E. Gelle, and A. Campbell (University of Chicago) provided expert assistance in the preparation and execution of the shock experiments. We appreciate the use of the rf heater provided by L.T. Silver. We are grateful to D.J. Stevenson, D.L Anderson, and N.T. Arndt (Max-Planck-Institut für Chemie, Mainz) for their thoughtful comments and suggestions and K. Wei and R.G. Tronnes (University of Alberta) for sharing their unpublished manuscript with us, This manuscript has benefited greatly from careful review by D. Walker. This work was funded by the National Science Foundation grants EAR-86-18545 and EAR-89-16753. Contribution 4809, Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California.

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