Experimental evidence for melt partitioning between olivine and orthopyroxene in partially molten harzburgite
Miller, Kevin J.
Montesi, Laurent G. J.
Gaetani, Glenn A.
Le Roux, Véronique
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KeywordMelt transport; Rock physics; Fluid-rock interaction; Mid-ocean ridge; Digital rock physics; Partial melt
Observations of dunite channels in ophiolites and uranium series disequilibria in mid-ocean ridge basalt suggest that melt transport in the upper mantle beneath mid-ocean ridges is strongly channelized. We present experimental evidence that spatial variations in mineralogy can also focus melt on the grain scale. This lithologic melt partitioning, which results from differences in the interfacial energies associated with olivine-melt and orthopyroxene-melt boundaries, may complement other melt focusing mechanisms in the upper mantle such as mechanical shear and pyroxene dissolution. We document here lithologic melt partitioning in olivine-/orthopyroxene-basaltic melt samples containing nominal olivine to orthopyroxene ratio of 3 to 2 and melt fractions of 0.02 to 0.20. Experimental samples were imaged using synchrotron-based X-ray microcomputed tomography at a resolution of 700 nm per voxel. By analyzing the local melt fraction distributions associated with olivine and orthopyroxene grains in each sample, we found that the melt partitioning coefficient, i.e., the ratio of melt fraction around olivine to that around orthopyroxene grains, varies between 1.1 and 1.6. The permeability and electrical conductivity of our digital samples were estimated using numerical models and compared to those of samples containing only olivine and basaltic melt. Our results suggest that lithologic melt partitioning and preferential localization of melt around olivine grains might play a role in melt focusing, potentially enhancing average melt ascent velocities.
Author Posting. © American Geophysical Union, 2016. This article is posted here by permission of American Geophysical Union for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth 121 (2016): 5776–5793, doi:10.1002/2016JB013122.
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