The effect of water on the electrical conductivity of olivine aggregates and its implications for the electrical structure of the upper mantle

Takashi Yoshino, Takuya Matsuzaki, Anton Shatskiy, Tomoo Katsura

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

201 Citations (Scopus)


The electrical conductivity of San Carlos olivine aggregate of various water content was measured at a pressure of 10 GPa in a Kawai-type multi-anvil apparatus. Conductivity measurements were performed on two sets of samples to determine the effect on conductivity of water in olivine: 1) a hydrogen-doped sample and 2) a hydrogen-undoped sample. To minimize water escape from the hydrogen-doped samples, the conductivity measurement was carried out below 1000 K. Three conduction mechanisms were identified from the Arrhenian behavior of the undoped samples, which include a small amount of water. A change in the activation enthalpy indicated that the dominant conduction mechanism changed from proton conduction to small polaron conduction with increasing temperature. At temperatures above 1700 K, the activation enthalpy exceeds 2 eV suggesting that the dominant mechanism of charge transport would be ionic conduction. The conductivity increased with increasing water content. The activation enthalpy for proton conduction tends to decrease slightly with increasing water content. The activation enthalpy determined for each run had similar values (~ 0.9 eV). Taking the water concentration dependence of activation enthalpy into account for proton conduction, all data were fitted to the electrical conductivity formula σ=σ0Iexp[-EI/kT]+σ0Hexp[-EH/kT]+σ0PCWexp[-(E0-αCW1/3)/kT], where σ0 represents a pre-exponential term, CW is the water content in weight percent, E is the activation enthalpy, E0 is the activation enthalpy for proton conduction at very low water concentration, α :is the geometrical factor, k is the Boltzmann constant, T is absolute temperature and subscripts I, H and P denote ionic, hopping (small polaron) and proton conductions, respectively. The conductivity jump at the 410 km discontinuity (olivine-wadsleyite transition) is much smaller than that previously predicted. Since the contribution of proton conduction to the bulk electrical conductivity decreases with increasing temperature the high conductivity anomaly at the top of the asthenosphere cannot be explained by olivine hydration.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)291-300
Number of pages10
JournalEarth and Planetary Science Letters
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - Oct 30 2009


  • electrical conductivity
  • olivine
  • upper mantle
  • water

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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