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Olivine ionic conductivity


H. Fei, D. Druzhbin, T. Katsura (2020). The effect of water on ionic conductivity in olivine. Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth, e2019JB019313. full text

H. Fei, S. Koizumi, N. Sakamoto, M. Hashiguchi, H. Yurimoto, K. Marquardt, N. Miyajima, T. Katsura (2018). Mg lattice diffusion in iron-free olivine and implications to conductivity anomaly in the oceanic asthenosphere. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 484, 204-212. full text


Magnetotellurics show anomalously high electrical conductivity in the young oceanic asthenosphere, which is higher than dry olivine conductivity by 1~2 orders of magnitude. Previous workers attempted to attribute this anomaly free proton conduction of olivine, (e.g. Karato, 1990; Wang et al., 2006), however, such hypothesis is denied because it requires unrealistically high volatile contents (Katsura et al., 2017).
The Mg-diffusion controlled ionic conduction mechanism in olivine, in contrast, has receivedminimal attention. Incorporation of water produces additional Mg vacancies and thus may enhance Mg diffusion and ionic conductivity. Therefore, we hypothesis that although the contribution of ionic conduction to dry olivine is relatively small at upper mantle temperature conditions, it may become important by considering the small amount of water in the asthenosphere.
To evaluate this hypothesis, we performed Mg self-diffusion experiments and direct conductivity measurements in olivine as functions of pressure, temperature, and water content. The experimental results show that both Mg diffusivity and ionic conductivity are dramatically enhanced by water incorporation. They have water content exponents of 1.2±0.2 and 1.3±0.2, respectively. The conductivity anomaly in the asthenosphere is well explained by Mg diffusion controlled ionic conductivity in olivine enhanced by ~60 wt. ppm water.


Fig. 1. Mg diffusion controlled ionic conductivity in olivine enhanced by 60 wt. ppm water is much higher than dry olivine conductivity and well explains the conductivity anomaly in the asthenosphere.