Effect of iron content on thermal conductivity of olivine with implications for cooling history of rocky planets

Youyue Zhang, Takashi Yoshino, Akira Yoneda, Masahiro Osako

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


The influence of Fe concentration on heat transport properties of olivine was investigated to understand the cooling history of rocky planets such as Mercury, Mars and asteroids. Thermal conductivity (λ) and thermal diffusivity (κ) were measured simultaneously for olivine polycrystal with different Fe contents (Fo, Fo90, Fo70, Fo50, Fo31 and Fo0) up to 10 GPa and 1100 K by a pulse heating method. With increasing Fe in olivine, thermal conductivity of olivine first decreases and then slightly increases. The minimum λ was found to be at composition near Fo31; the absolute λ value of Fo31 is about 65% lower than that of Fo. Small amounts of Fe in olivine can strongly reduce the thermal conductivity at low temperature; λ value of Fo90 is about 50% of Fo at room temperature. Thermal conductivities of polycrystalline olivine have smaller absolute values and weaker pressure and temperature dependences, compared with those of natural single crystal olivine determined by previous studies. Heat capacity of Fo70 and Fo50 calculated from λ and κ is independent of pressure and is controlled by nearly constant thermal expansion coefficient with increasing temperature. Smaller λ of olivine aggregate with high Fe content would produce a warmer mantle and, in turn, possibly a thicker crust in the Fe-rich Mars, while heat in the Fe-poor Mercury can escape faster than the other terrestrial planets. Olivine-dominant asteroids with high Fe concentration could have longer cooling history and lower thermal inertia on the surface.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)109-119
Number of pages11
JournalEarth and Planetary Science Letters
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1 2019


  • heat capacity
  • high pressure
  • mantle
  • olivine
  • thermal conductivity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science


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