Letter | Published:

Melting of peridotite to 14 GPa and the genesis of komatiite

Naturevolume 315pages566568 (1985) | Download Citation

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Abstract

It is generally accepted that the Earth's upper mantle is made of peridotite1,2. In volatile-absent conditions, partial melting of mantle peridotite close to the solidus yields a variety of basaltic melts that are progressively more olivine-normative with increasing depth3,4. At 3–4 GPa (30–40 kbar), the highest pressures so far investigated, the melts are picritic with up to 20 wt% MgO (ref. 5). Basaltic magmas that are dominant on the Earth's surface today, therefore, are considered to have been generated at relatively shallow depths (<100 km)1–6. Here we extend the pressure range of the melting experiments to 14 GPa and show that melts close to the peridotite solidus at 5–7 GPa are no longer basaltic but are komatiitic with >30 wt% MgO. Based on these results, we describe a model for the genesis of komatiite magmas by partial melting at depths of 150–200 km in the Archaean upper mantle.

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Affiliations

  1. Institute for Study of the Earth's Interior, Okayama University, Misasa, Tottori-ken, 682-02, Japan

    • Eiichi Takahashi
    •  & Christopher M. Scarfe
  2. Department of Geology and Institute of Earth and Planetary Physics, University of Alberta, Edmonton, T6G 2E3, Canada

    • Christopher M. Scarfe

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https://doi.org/10.1038/315566a0

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