Thermodynamics of pressure release melting of a veined plum pudding mantle



[1] This study explores the thermodynamics of adiabatic decompression melting of peridotitic mantle containing pyroxenite veins that have lower solidi than the peridotite. When a vein of lower solidus-temperature material melts adjacent to more refractory material, additional heat will flow into the melting region to increase its melting productivity. If pyroxenite veins have a solidus-depletion gradient ((∂Tm/∂F)P) like that of olivine or peridotite, then the melting of the veins is enhanced by up to a factor of 4 by this heat. However, the solidus-depletion gradient of pyroxenites is apparently lower than that of peridotites; thus pyroxenite melting would be even more enhanced. If pyroxenite veins have a gentler solidus-pressure (T-P) dependence (i.e., lower (∂Tm/∂P)F) than that of peridotite solidi, then although these veins will experience enhanced melting while they are the only melting assemblage, they will stop melting soon after their peridotite matrix begins to melt. During large-scale peridotite melting the material ascends along a T-P path close to that of the peridotite solidus, so that the mixture's temperature remains lower than the solidus of the residual pyroxenite, and pyroxenite melting ceases throughout the shallower sections of the melting column. If pyroxenitic material makes up a large fraction of the mantle mixture (∼20%), then the heat consumed by deep pyroxenite melting cools the ascending mantle mixture enough so that peridotite melting begins ∼5–10 km shallower than it would in the absence of precurser pyroxenite melting. After recycling into the mantle, the melt extraction residue will again melt if it is reheated to ambient mantle temperatures and rises again to shallow depths.