Experimental studies of shear deformation of mantle materials: Towards structural geology of the mantle

S. Karato, S. Zhang, Mark E Zimmerman, M. J. Daines, David L Kohlstedt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


A brief outline is given on experimental studies carried out in the Minnesota Mineral and Rock Physics Laboratory of microstructural evolution and rheology of mantle mineral aggregates or their analogues, using a simple shear deformation geometry. A simple shear deformation geometry allows us to unambiguously identify controlling factors of microstructural evolution and to obtain large strains at high pressures and temperatures, and thus provides a unique opportunity to investigate the "structural geology of the mantle." We have developed a simple shear deformation technique for use at high pressures and temperatures (pressure up to 16 GPa and temperature up to 2000 K) in both gas-medium and solid-medium apparati. This technique has been applied to the following mineral systems: (i) olivine aggregates, (ii) olivine basaltic melt, (iii) CaTiO3 perovskite aggregates. The results have provided important data with which to understand the dynamics of the earth's mantle, including the geometry of mantle convection, mechanisms of melt distribution and migration beneath mid-ocean ridges, and the mechanisms of shear localization. Limitations of laboratory studies and future directions are also discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)589-603
Number of pages15
JournalPure and Applied Geophysics
Issue number2-4
StatePublished - 1998


  • Lattice preferred orientation
  • Partial melting
  • Seismic anisotropy
  • Shear localization
  • Simple shear deformation
  • Structural geology


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