Composition of the upper mantle: Geophysical tests of two petrological models

Jay D. Bass, Don L. Anderson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The elastic properties of candidate mantle phases are used to test the viability of olivine‐rich (pyrolitic) and CaO + Al2O3‐rich (eclogitic) assemblages for the mantle. High temperature adiabats for each phase of interest are constructed and compared to mantle seismic properties. Both pyrolitic and eclogitic assemblages satisfy the seismic properties between ∼ 200 and 400 km. Between 400 and 670 km depth an eclogitic assemblage yields a superior match to velocities and velocity gradients. The 400 km seismic discontinuity may represent a chemical boundary between pyrolite and picritic eclogite (“piclogite”) or phase transformations in the olivine + orthopyroxene components of a piclogitic assemblage containing about 16% olivine. High velocity gradients in the transition zone may be explained by the transformation of Ca‐rich cpx to majorite garnet. Seismic properties at the top of the lower mantle are consistent with pyrolite, piclogite or perovskite, implying that the 670 km discontinuity may be a chemical boundary.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)229-232
Number of pages4
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1984
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


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