Insights into magma ocean dynamics from the transport properties of basaltic melt

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The viscosity of magma plays a crucial role in the dynamics of the Earth: from the crystallization of a magma ocean during its initial stages to modern-day volcanic processes. However, the pressure-dependence behavior of viscosity at high pressure remains controversial. In this study, we report the results of first-principles molecular dynamics simulations of basaltic melt to show that the melt viscosity increases upon compression along each isotherm for the entire lower mantle after showing minima at ~6 GPa. However, elevated temperatures of the magma ocean translate to a narrow range of viscosity, i.e., 0.01-0.03 Pa.s. This low viscosity implies that the crystallization of the magma ocean could be complete within a few million years. These results also suggest that the crystallization of the magma ocean is likely to be fractional, thus supporting the hypothesis that present-day mantle heterogeneities could have been generated during the early crystallization of the primitive mantle.

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Nature communications

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