Effects of temperature, pressure and chemical compositions on the electrical conductivity of carbonated melts and its relationship with viscosity

David Sifré, Leïla Hashim, Fabrice Gaillard

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31 Scopus citations


Carbonated melts constitute a key medium in the global deep carbon cycle: their impact on the geochemical signature of deep rocks is well studied because of their role as metasomatic agents in the deep mantle. However, their physical properties and in particular their electrical conductivity at high temperature and high pressure remain poorly constrained. In this study, we investigated the effect of chemical composition on the electrical conductivity of carbonated melts. We characterized this effect for various temperatures (1000-1700 °C) and pressures (1 to 4 GPa). Measurements show a very high electrical conductivity (>100 S·m-1) with weak temperature, pressure and chemical composition dependence. Carbonated melts are five orders of magnitude more conductive than mantle olivine, and up to two orders of magnitude more conductive than basalts at similar T and P. The electrical conductivity of molten carbonates follows an Arrhenius law and the different parameters were determined. A common activation volume was defined with δV = 0.275 J/bar. As a result, we are able to calculate the electrical conductivity for larger temperature and pressure ranges for the melt compositions considered here. By combining the Nernst-Einstein and Eyring equations, a remarkably simple correlation was established between electrical conductivity and viscosity. The viscosity of carbonated melts, which is a key parameter defining the rate of metasomatic fluids flowing in the earth's mantle, can therefore be calculated as a function of pressure and temperature.We used these new data to interpret the high electrical conductivity recently observed in the mantle under the Brazilian craton. The anomalously elevated conductivity most likely images the process of lithospheric rejuvenation involving 0.03 to 0.2% of carbonated melt.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)189-197
Number of pages9
JournalChemical Geology
StatePublished - Dec 15 2015

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work, part of the ElectroLith project, benefited from funding by the European Research Council (ERC project #279790 ) and the French agency for research ( ANR project # 2010 BLAN62101 ). The authors would like to thank Klaus Mezger and Carmen Sanchez-Valle for careful and efficient editorial handling as well as two anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments that significantly improved the manuscript. We also acknowledge Ida Di Carlo for analytical support, Marielle Hatton for elemental analyses and Esteban Le Moing and Rémy Planckaert for technical assistance.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 Elsevier B.V.


  • CO
  • Carbonated melt
  • Electrical conductivity
  • Mantle geophysics
  • Piston cylinder
  • Viscosity


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