Effect of iron content on electrical conductivity of ringwoodite, with implications for electrical structure in the transition zone

Takashi Yoshino, Tomoo Katsura

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Citations (Scopus)


Electrical conductivity of ringwoodite with various iron contents [Fe/(Fe + Mg) = 0.09, 0.2 and 0.3] was measured at pressure (20 GPa) and temperature (up to 1900 K) conditions of the lower part of the mantle transition zone in a Kawai-type multi-anvil apparatus. The conductivity increased with increasing total iron content. All electrical conductivity data were fitted to the formula of electrical conductivity σ = σ0 XFe exp(-H/kT), where σ0 is the pre-exponential term, XFe is the mole fraction of iron content in the Mg site, H is the activation enthalpy, k is the Boltzmann constant and T is absolute temperature. The activation enthalpy becomes higher at a certain temperature. At high temperatures, the activation enthalpy decreased from 1.44 to 0.92 eV with increasing total Fe content. At low temperatures less than 1000 K, the activation enthalpy also decreases from 1.15 to 0.74 eV with total Fe content. Dependence of the activation enthalpy on Fe content suggests that the dominant mechanism of charge transport is Fe2+-Fe3+ hopping (small polaron). Recent electrical conductivity-depth profiles of the transition zone beneath the Pacific Ocean obtained from the electromagnetic induction study shows that the conductivity values between 520 and 660 km depths may be explained by ringwoodite with Fe/(Fe + Mg) = 0.10. On the other hand, assuming a normal geotherm, conductivity values beneath the continent or stable craton are considerably lower than those of ringwoodite with Fe/(Fe + Mg) = 0.10. Taking into consideration results from the global seismic tomographic studies, relatively low conductivity in these regions can be explained by the existence of a cooler region compared with the surrounding mantle, rather than the presence of iron-poor ringwoodite, or a combination of both.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-9
Number of pages7
JournalPhysics of the Earth and Planetary Interiors
Issue number1-4
Publication statusPublished - May 2009


  • Electrical conductivity
  • Iron content
  • Ringwoodite
  • Transition zone
  • Upper mantle

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Geophysics
  • Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science


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