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Original article (peer-reviewed)

Volume (Issue) 317
Page(s) 27 - 43
DOI 10.1016/j.epsl.2011.11.031


This paper applies electromagnetic sounding methods for Earth's mantle to constrain its thermal state, chemical composition, and ``water{''} content. We consider long-period inductive response functions in the form of C-responses from four stations distributed across the Earth (Europe, North America, Asia and Australia) covering a period range from 3.9 to 95.2 days and sensitivity to similar to 1200 km depth. We invert C-responses directly for thermo-chemical state using a self-consistent thermodynamic method that computes phase equilibria as functions of pressure, temperature, and composition (in the Na2O-CaO-FeO-MgO-Al2O3-SiO2 model system). Computed mineral modes are combined with recent laboratory-based electrical conductivity models from independent experimental research groups (Yoshino (2010) and Karato (2011)) to compute bulk conductivity structure beneath each of the four stations from which C-responses are estimated. To reliably allocate water between the various mineral phases we include laboratory-measured water partition coefficients for major upper mantle and transition zone minerals. This scheme is interfaced with a sampling-based algorithm to solve the resulting non-linear inverse problem. This approach has two advantages: (1) It anchors temperatures, composition, electrical conductivities, and discontinuities that are in laboratory-based forward models, and (2) At the same time it permits the use of geophysical inverse methods to optimize conductivity profiles to match geophysical data. The results show lateral variations in upper mantle temperatures beneath the four stations that appear to persist throughout the upper mantle and parts of the transition zone. Calculated mantle temperatures at 410 and 660 km depth lie in the range 1250-1650 degrees C and 1500-1750 degrees C, respectively, and generally agree with the experimentally-determined temperatures at which the measured phase reactions olivine -> beta-spinel and gamma-spinel -> ferropericlase + perovskite occur. The retrieved conductivity structures beneath the various stations tend to follow trends observed for temperature with the strongest lateral variations in the uppermost mantle; for depths >300 km conductivities appear to depend less on the particular conductivity database. Conductivities at 410 km and at 660 km depth are found to agree overall with purely geophysically-derived global and semi-global one-dimensional conductivity models. Both electrical conductivity databases point to <0.01 wt.\% H2O in the upper mantle. For transition zone minerals results from the laboratory database of Yoshino (2010) suggest that a much higher water content (up to 2 wt.\% H2O) is required than in the other database (Karato, 2011), which favors a relatively ``dry{''} transition zone (<0.01 wt.\% H2O). Incorporating laboratory measurements of hydrous silicate melting relations and available conductivity data allows us to consider the possibility of hydration melting and a high-conductivity melt layer above the 410-km discontinuity. The latter appears to be 1) regionally localized and 2) principally a feature from the Yoshino (2010) database. Further, there is evidence of lateral heterogeneity: The mantle beneath southwestern North America and central China appears ``wetter{''} than that beneath central Europe or Australia. (C) 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.}}}