The molecular structure of melts along the carbonatite–kimberlite–basalt compositional joint: CO2and polymerisation

Abstract : Transitional melts, intermediate in composition between silicate and carbonate melts, form by low degree partial melting of mantle peridotite and might be the most abundant type of melt in the asthenosphere. Their role in the transport of volatile elements and in metasomatic processes at the planetary scale might be significant yet they have remained largely unstudied. Their molecular structure has remained elusive in part because these melts are difficult to quench to glass. Here we use FTIR, Raman, 13C and 29Si NMR spectroscopy together with First Principle Molecular Dynamic (FPMD) simulations to investigate the molecular structure of transitional melts and in particular to assess the effect of CO2on their structure. We found that carbon in these glasses forms free ionic carbonate groups attracting cations away from their usual ‘depolymerising’ role in breaking up the covalent silicate network. Solution of CO2in these melts strongly modifies their structure resulting in a significant polymerisation of the aluminosilicate network with a decrease in NBO/Si of about 0.2 for every 5 mol% CO2dissolved. This polymerisation effect is expected to influence the physical and transport properties of transitional melts. An increase in viscosity is expected with increasing CO2content, potentially leading to melt ponding at certain levels in the mantle such as at the lithosphere–asthenosphere boundary. Conversely an ascending and degassing transitional melt such as a kimberlite would become increasingly fluid during ascent hence potentially accelerate. Carbon-rich transitional melts are effectively composed of two sub-networks:a carbonate and a silicate one leading to peculiar physical and transport properties.
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Yves Moussallam, Pierre Florian, Dario Corradini, Yann Morizet, Nicolas Sator, et al.. The molecular structure of melts along the carbonatite–kimberlite–basalt compositional joint: CO2and polymerisation. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, Elsevier, 2016, 434, pp.129-140. ⟨10.1016/j.epsl.2015.11.025⟩. ⟨insu-01250952⟩

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