Manganese contents and the iron/manganese ratio of igneous rocks have been used as a method of probing the heterogeneity in the Earth's mantle during melting of peridotite and pyroxenite lithologies. Most previous work has assumed that changes in these parameters require differences in either source lithology or composition based on experiments indicating that manganese is slightly incompatible during melting and that the iron/manganese ratio is fixed by the presence of olivine. However, the presence of volatiles in the mantle drives melting at lower temperatures and with different compositions than in volatile-free systems, and thus the partitioning of Fe and Mn may in fact vary. We have produced silicate liquids in equilibrium with a peridotite assemblage under hydrous conditions at 3 GPa that show that Mn can also be unexpectedly compatible in garnet at 1375. °C and that Mn partitioning between solids and liquids can be strongly affected by temperature and liquid composition. The compatibility of Mn in garnet provides a mechanism for large variations of Mn contents and the Fe/Mn ratio in silicate melts that solely involves melting of mantle peridotite with only small compositional changes. Correlations between Mn variations and other indices indicative of melting in the presence of garnet may provide a means of more completely understanding the role of garnet at high pressures in peridotite melting.
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The authors thank Andrew Matzen and Mike Baker for illuminating discussions regarding the behavior and analysis of MnO in experiments. Associate Editor Michael Toplis, reviewer Claude Herzberg, and an anonymous reviewer helped improve the manuscript. This work was supported by the NSF Ocean Sciences Marine Geology and Geophysics program, Grant Nos. OCE-0241716 and OCE-0550216 .