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Blocked radiative heat transport in the hot pyrolitic lower mantle

Abstract : The heat flux across the core-mantle boundary (QCMB) is the key parameter to understand the Earth’s thermal history and evolution. Mineralogical constraints of the QCMB require deciphering contributions of the lattice and radiative components to the thermal conductivity at high pressure and temperature in lower mantle phases with depth-dependent composition. Here we determine the radiative conductivity (krad) of a realistic lower mantle (pyrolite) in situ using an ultra-bright light probe and fast time-resolved spectroscopic techniques in laser-heated diamond anvil cells. We find that the mantle opacity increases critically upon heating to ~3000 K at 40-135 GPa, resulting in an unexpectedly low radiative conductivity decreasing with depth from ~0.8 W/m/K at 1000 km to ~0.35 W/m/K at the CMB, the latter being ~30 times smaller than the estimated lattice thermal conductivity at such conditions . Thus, radiative heat transport is blocked due to an increased optical absorption in the hot lower mantle resulting in a moderate CMB heat flow of ~8.5 TW, at odds with present estimates based on the mantle and core dynamics. This moderate rate of core cooling implies an inner core age of about 1 Gy and is compatible with both thermally- and compositionally-driven ancient geodynamo.
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Sergey Lobanov, Nicholas Holtgrewe, Gen Ito, James Badro, Hélène Piet, et al.. Blocked radiative heat transport in the hot pyrolitic lower mantle. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, Elsevier, 2020, 537, pp.116176. ⟨10.1016/j.epsl.2020.116176⟩. ⟨insu-02913165⟩

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