The mineralogy of the deep mantle is one of the key factors for the chemical evolution of the Earth. The constituent minerals of the mantle rock control the physical properties of the mantle, which have significant impacts on the large-scale processes occurring in the Earth's interior. In my PhD research, I adopted experimental approaches to investigate the mineralogy and the physical properties of the Earth's materials in the deep mantle by using the diamond anvil cells (DACs) combined with in-situ X-ray diffraction techniques.
First, I found that Ca-bearing bridgmanite can be stable in the deeper part of the Earth's lower mantle where temperature is sufficiently high. The dissolution of calcium into bridgmanite can change the physical properties of the mantle, such as compressibility and viscosity. This study suggests a new mineralogical model for the lower mantle, which is composed of the two layers depending on whether calcium dissolves in bridgmanite or forms CaSiO3 perovskite as a separate phase.
Second, I investigated the mineralogy and density of the subducting materials in the Archean at the P-T conditions near 670 km-depth. The experiments suggest that the major phases of Archean volcanic crust is majoritic garnet and ringwoodite in the P-T conditions of the deep transition zone, which become bridgmanite with increasing pressure. The density model showed that Archean volcanic crust would have been denser than the surrounding mantle, promoting sinking into the lower mantle regardless of the style of the transportation in the Archean.
Lastly, I further investigated the mineralogies and densities of the ancient volcanic crusts for the Archean and Proterozoic at the P-T conditions of the lower mantle. The experiments suggest that the mineralogy of the ancient volcanic crusts is composed mostly of bridgmanite, which is systemically denser than the surrounding lower mantle. This implies that the ancient volcanic crusts would have accumulated at the base of the mantle because of their large density and thickness. Therefore, the distinctive chemistry of the ancient volcanic crusts from the surrounding mantle would have given a rise to the chemical heterogeneities in the region for billions of years.