Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting nature.com. You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Olivine crystals align during diffusion creep of Earth’s upper mantle

Abstract

The crystallographic preferred orientation (CPO) of olivine produced during dislocation creep is considered to be the primary cause of elastic anisotropy in Earth’s upper mantle and is often used to determine the direction of mantle flow. A fundamental question remains, however, as to whether the alignment of olivine crystals is uniquely produced by dislocation creep. Here we report the development of CPO in iron-free olivine (that is, forsterite) during diffusion creep; the intensity and pattern of CPO depend on temperature and the presence of melt, which control the appearance of crystallographic planes on grain boundaries. Grain boundary sliding on these crystallography-controlled boundaries accommodated by diffusion contributes to grain rotation, resulting in a CPO. We show that strong radial anisotropy is anticipated at temperatures corresponding to depths where melting initiates to depths where strongly anisotropic and low seismic velocities are detected. Conversely, weak anisotropy is anticipated at temperatures corresponding to depths where almost isotropic mantle is found. We propose diffusion creep to be the primary means of mantle flow.

Your institute does not have access to this article

Relevant articles

Open Access articles citing this article.

Access options

Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.

$32.00

All prices are NET prices.

Figure 1: Strain rate as a function of stress.
Figure 2: Lower-hemispheric projections of the crystallographic orientations of forsterite grains.
Figure 3: SEM backscatter images of reference and deformed samples of Fo+Di, partly molten Fo+Di and Fo+An.
Figure 4: J index determined from EBSD analyses of the deformed samples as a function of aspect ratio of forsterite grains in the reference sample.
Figure 5: Proposed depth distributions of olivine crystal shape and fabrics during diffusion-accommodated GBS creep of peridotite in the asthenosphere.

References

  1. Tanimoto, T. & Anderson, D. L. Mapping mantle convection. Geophys. Res. Lett. 11, 287–290 (1984)

    ADS  Google Scholar 

  2. Carter, N. L. & Avé Lallemant, H. G. High temperature flow of dunite and peridotite. Geol. Soc. Am. Bull. 81, 2181–2202 (1970)

    ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  3. Nicolas, A. & Christensen, N. I. in The Composition, Structure and Dynamics of the Lithosphere-Asthenosphere System (eds Froidevaux, C. & Fuchs, K. ) 111–123 (American Geophysical Union, 1987)

    Google Scholar 

  4. Couvy, H. et al. Shear deformation experiments of forsterite at 11 GPa-1400 °C in the multianvil apparatus. Eur. J. Mineral. 16, 877–889 (2004)

    ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  5. Jung, H. & Karato, S.-I. Water-induced fabric transitions in olivine. Science 293, 1460–1463 (2001)

    ADS  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  6. Karato, S. in Inside the Subduction Factory (ed. Eiler, J. ) 135–152 (American Geophysical Union, 2003)

    Google Scholar 

  7. Hiraga, T., Miyazaki, T., Tasaka, M. & Yoshida, H. Mantle superplasticity and its self-made demise. Nature 468, 1091–1094 (2010)

    ADS  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  8. Tasaka, M. & Hiraga, T. Influence of mineral fraction on the rheological properties of forsterite + enstatite during grain size sensitive creep: 1. Grain size and grain growth laws. J. Geophys. Res.. 118, http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/jgrb.50285 (2013)

  9. Tasaka, M., Hiraga, T. & Zimmerman, M. E. Influence of mineral fraction on the rheological properties of forsterite + enstatite during grain size sensitive creep: 2. Deformation experiments. J. Geophys. Res.. 118, http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/jgrb.50284 (2013)

  10. Mainprice, D., Barruol, G. & Ismaïl, W. in Earth’s Deep Interior: Mineral Physics and Seismic Tomography from the Atomic to the Global Scale (eds Karato, S., Forte, A. M., Liebermann, R. C., Masters, G. & Stixrude, L. ) 237–264 (Geophys. Monogr. Ser. 117, American Geophysical Union, 2000)

    Google Scholar 

  11. Hiraga, T., Nagase, T. & Akizuki, M. The structure of grain boundaries in granite-origin ultramylonite studied by high-resolution electron microscopy. Phys. Chem. Miner. 26, 617–623 (1999)

    ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  12. Hiraga, T., Anderson, I. M., Zimmerman, M. E., Mei, S. & Kohlstedt, D. L. Structure and chemistry of grain boundaries in deformed, olivine + basalt and partially molten lherzolite aggregates: evidence of melt-free grain boundaries. Contrib. Mineral. Petrol. 144, 163–175 (2002)

    ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  13. Hiraga, T., Anderson, I. M. & Kohlstedt, D. L. Grain boundaries as reservoirs of incompatible elements in the Earth’s mantle. Nature 427, 699–703 (2004)

    ADS  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  14. Hiraga, T., Miyazaki, T., Yoshida, H. & Zimmerman, M. E. Comparison of microstructures in superplastically deformed synthetic materials and natural mylonites: mineral aggregation via grain boundary sliding. Geology 41, 959–962 (2013)

    ADS  Google Scholar 

  15. Ashby, M. F. & Verrall, R. A. Diffusion-accommodated flow and superplasticity. Acta Metall. 21, 149–163 (1973)

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  16. Beere, W. Stresses and deformation at grain boundaries. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. Lond. A 288, 177–196 (1978)

    ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  17. Yoshizawa, Y., Toriyama, M. & Kanzaki, S. Fabrication of textured alumina by high-temperature deformation. J. Am. Ceram. Soc. 84, 1392–1394 (2001)

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  18. Barreiro, G. et al. Preferred orientation of anorthite deformed experimentally in Newtonian creep. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 264, 188–207 (2007)

    ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  19. Sundberg, M. & Cooper, R. F. Crystallographic preferred orientation produced by diffusional creep of harzburgite: effects of chemical interactions among phases during plastic flow. J. Geophys. Res. 113, B12208 (2008)

    ADS  Google Scholar 

  20. Deer, W. A., Howie, R. A. & Zussman, J. Rock-Forming Minerals: Volume 1A: Orthosilicates 194–200 (Longman, 1982)

    Google Scholar 

  21. Hiraga, T., Tachibana, C., Ohashi, N. & Sano, S. Grain growth systematics for forsterite ± enstatite aggregates: effect of lithology on grain size in the upper mantle. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 291, 10–20 (2010)

    ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  22. Ohuchi, T. & Nakamura, M. Grain growth in the system forsterite–diopside–water. Phys. Earth Planet. Inter. 161, 281–304 (2007)

    ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  23. Hiraga, T., Hirschmann, M. M. & Kohlstedt, D. L. Equilibrium interface segregation in the diopside-forsterite system II: applications of interface enrichment to mantle geochemistry. Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta 71, 1281–1289 (2007)

    ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  24. Straumal, B. & Baretzky, B. Grain boundary phase transitions and their influence on properties of polycrystals. Interface Sci. 12, 147–155 (2004)

    Google Scholar 

  25. Mehl, L., Hacker, B. R., Hirth, G. & Kelemen, P. B. Arc-parallel flow within the mantle wedge: evidence from the accreted Talkeetna arc, south central Alaska. J. Geophys. Res. 108, 2375 (2003)

    ADS  Google Scholar 

  26. Fernando, L., Morales, G. & Tommasi, A. Composition, textures, seismic and thermal anisotropies of xenoliths from a thin and hot lithospheric mantle (Summit Lake, southern Canadian Cordillera). Tectonophysics 507, 1–15 (2011)

    ADS  Google Scholar 

  27. Nettles, M. & Dziewonski, A. M. Radially anisotropic shear-velocity structure of the upper mantle beneath North America. J. Geophys. Res. 113, B02303 (2008)

    ADS  Google Scholar 

  28. Evans, R. L. et al. Geophysical evidence from the MELT area for compositional controls on oceanic plates. Nature 437, 249–252 (2005)

    ADS  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  29. Hirschmann, M. M. Water melting and the deep Earth H2O cycle. Annu. Rev. Earth Planet. Sci. 34, 629–653 (2006)

    ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  30. Faul, U. H. & Jackson, I. The seismological signature of temperature and grain size variations in the upper mantle. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 234, 119–134 (2005)

    ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  31. Behn, M. D., Hirth, G. & Elsenbeck, J. R. Implications of grain-size evolution on the seismic structure of the oceanic upper mantle. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 282, 178–189 (2009)

    ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  32. Mercier, J.-C. C. Magnitude of the continental lithospheric stresses inferred from rheomorphic petrology. J. Geophys. Res. 85, 6293–6303 (1980)

    ADS  Google Scholar 

  33. Karato, S. On the Lehmann discontinuity. Geophys. Res. Lett. 19, 2255–2258 (1992)

    ADS  Google Scholar 

  34. Mainprice, D., Tommasi, A., Couvy, H., Cordier, P. & Frost, D. J. Pressure sensitivity of olivine slip systems: implications for the interpretation of seismic anisotropy of the Earth’s upper mantle. Nature 433, 731–733 (2005)

    ADS  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  35. Raterron, P., Chen, J., Li, L., Weidner, D. J. & Cordier, P. Pressure-induced slip system transition in forsterite: single-crystal rheological properties at mantle pressure and temperature. Am. Mineral. 92, 1436–1445 (2007)

    ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  36. Ohuchi, T., Kawazoe, T., Nishihara, Y., Nishiyama, N. & Irifune, T. High pressure and temperature fabric transitions in olivine and variations in upper mantle seismic anisotropy. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 304, 55–63 (2011)

    ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  37. Kawakatsu, H. et al. Seismic evidence for sharp lithosphere-asthenosphere boundaries of oceanic plates. Science 324, 499–502 (2009)

    ADS  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  38. Holtzman, B. K. et al. Melt segregation and strain partitioning: implications for seismic anisotropy and mantle flow. Science 301, 1227–1230 (2003)

    ADS  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  39. Karato, S.-I. Rheology of the deep upper mantle and its implications for the preservation of the continental roots: a review. Tectonophysics 481, 82–98 (2010)

    ADS  Google Scholar 

  40. Nieh, T. G., Wadsworth, J. & Sherby, O. D. Superplasticity in Metals and Ceramics 32–57 (Cambridge Univ. Press, 1997)

    Google Scholar 

  41. Nabarro, F. R. N. in Strength of Solids (ed. Mott, N. F. ) 75–90 (Physical Society, 1948)

    Google Scholar 

  42. Gordon, R. B. Diffusion creep in the Earth’s mantle. J. Geophys. Res. 70, 2413–2418 (1965)

    ADS  Google Scholar 

  43. Koizumi, S. et al. Synthesis of highly dense and fine-grained aggregates of mantle composites by vacuum sintering of mineral nano-powders. Phys. Chem. Miner. 37, 505–518 (2010)

    ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  44. Faul, U. H. & Scott, D. Grain growth in partially molten olivine aggregates. Contrib. Mineral. Petrol. 151, 101–111 (2006)

    ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgements

Discussions with H. Yoshida, K. Morita, M. E. Zimmerman, Y. Takei, S. Michibayashi, B. K. Holtzman, K. Baba, T. Isse and H. Kawakatsu were very helpful. We thank Ube Material Industries, S. Ohtsuka, K. Ibe, M. Uchida and A. Yasuda for technical assistance. A portion of this work was conducted at the Center for Nano Lithography and Analysis of the University of Tokyo, supported by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT), Japan. This study was supported by the JSPS through Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research 23684043, 22000003 and 21109005, and through the Earthquake Research Institute’s cooperative research programme (T.H.).

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Contributions

T.M., K.S. and T.H. organized the project, and T.H. and T.M. completed the manuscript.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Takehiko Hiraga.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Extended data figures and tables

Extended Data Figure 1 Typical stress–strain curve for a Fo+Di sample.

The result was obtained from the compression experiment on the sample KF-160 at a constant displacement rate (v). The CPO of forsterite for this sample is shown in Fig. 2.

Extended Data Figure 2 The CPO of forsterite grains from tension experiments on Fo+Di samples at 1,330 °C with different amounts of strain (KS-16, ε = 1.1; KS-17, ε = 1.5).

The CPO of the sample with the smallest strain (KS-13, ε = 0.6) is shown in Fig. 2.

Extended Data Figure 3 Angles between crystallographic axes of forsterite and apparent long axes of forsterite grains in the Fo+Di samples.

Crystallographic a, b and c axes were measured by SEM/EBSD, whereas the long axes were determined from the grain shapes. Highly anisotropic grains were selectively measured. N, number of measured grains. a, Angle frequency in the sample statically annealed at 1,330 °C for 20 h (NV-323). b, CPO of the grains analysed in a. c, Angle frequency in the sample compressed at 1,330 °C (KF-125). The angles were measured in sections cut perpendicularly to the compression axis in the deformed sample. d, CPO of the grains analysed in c. Note that b and c axes are perpendicular to the long axes in the deformed samples, whereas only b axes are clearly perpendicular to the long axes in the non-deformed samples. The CPO in b indicates that the highly anisotropic grains were well identified when the b axes of forsterite grains were parallel to the sample section when the grains were randomly oriented, whereas the CPO in d indicates that the highly anisotropic grains were well identified when the b axes of the grains were perpendicular when the grains were preferentially oriented in the sample. Thus, we can conclude that the longest axis of each grain was parallel to the a axis and that the second longest axis was parallel to the c axis. The shortest grain axis should be parallel to the b axis.

Extended Data Figure 4 TEM and high-resolution TEM images of a Fo+Di sample after the compression experiment at 1,350 °C (KF-191).

a, TEM image of multiple grains showing the large-scale structure of grain boundaries. b, High-resolution TEM image of the forsterite grain boundary indicated by the arrow in a, showing that the boundary is parallel to the (010) plane of the central forsterite grain. Bending contrasts and a circular contrast from beam damage are observed. No dislocations are identified.

Extended Data Figure 5 Specimens of Fo+Di.

a, Before the tension deformation experiment. b, After the deformation experiment at 1,330 °C (KS-17) achieving ε = 1.5. The CPO of this sample is shown in Extended Data Fig. 2.

Extended Data Figure 6 Schematic illustration of CPO formation during GBS.

Anisotropic grains rotate under the operation of GBS, where GBS is easy on the long straight grain boundaries relative to the short grain boundaries (modified after ref. 16). Overlap and cavities formed at intergranular regions during GBS are removed and compensated, respectively, by atomic diffusion. Easy GBS planes align in the flow direction followed by the grain rotation, resulting in the formation of CPO in our samples.

Extended Data Figure 7 The CPO of forsterite grains in a Fo+Di sample (KF-172).

The sample was statically annealed at 1,330 °C for 10 h and then deformed under compression (ε = 0.6) at 1,200 °C. The initial grain size of this sample before the creep test was already large (Extended Data Table 1).

Extended Data Figure 8 Sample of spinel (0.5 vol.%)-doped forsterite (50 vol.%) plus Ca-bearing pyroxene deformed at 1,320 °C with ε = 1.0.

a, Secondary electron image of the sample. A very small amount of melt (1 vol.%; black) is present, mostly at triple-grain junctions. Dark grey, forsterite; light grey, pyroxene. b, Lower-hemispheric projections of the crystallographic orientations of forsterite grains measured by SEM/EBSD. N, number of measured grains. Both grain shape and CPO resemble that observed at high T.

Extended Data Table 1 Experimental data

Supplementary information

Supplementary Information

This file contains Supplementary Text and a Supplementary Reference. (PDF 114 kb)

PowerPoint slides

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Miyazaki, T., Sueyoshi, K. & Hiraga, T. Olivine crystals align during diffusion creep of Earth’s upper mantle. Nature 502, 321–326 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1038/nature12570

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/nature12570

Further reading

Comments

By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.

Search

Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing