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A mushy Earth's mantle for more than 500 Myr after the magma ocean solidification

Abstract : In its early evolution, the Earth mantle likely experienced several episodes of complete melting enhanced by giant impact heating, short-lived radionuclides heating and viscous dissipation during the metal/silicate separation. After a first stage of rapid and significant crystallization (Magma Ocean stage), the mantle cooling is slowed down due to the rheological transition, which occurs at a critical melt fraction of 40–50%. This transition first occurs in the lowermost mantle, before the mushy zone migrates toward the Earth's surface with further mantle cooling. Thick thermal boundary layers form above and below this reservoir. We have developed numerical models to monitor the thermal evolution of a cooling and crystallizing deep mushy mantle. For this purpose, we use a 1-D approach in spherical geometry accounting for turbulent convective heat transfer and integrating recent and solid experimental constraints from mineral physics. Our results show that the last stages of the mushy mantle solidification occur in two separate mantle layers. The lifetime and depth of each layer are strongly dependent on the considered viscosity model and in particular on the viscosity contrast between the solid upper and lower mantle. In any case, the full solidification should occur at the Hadean–Eoarchean boundary 500–800 Myr after Earth's formation. The persistence of molten reservoirs during the Hadean may favor the absence of early reliefs at that time and maintain isolation of the early crust from the underlying mantle dynamics.
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J. Monteux, Denis Andrault, Martin Guitreau, H Samuel, S. Demouchy. A mushy Earth's mantle for more than 500 Myr after the magma ocean solidification. Geophysical Journal International, Oxford University Press (OUP), 2020, 221 (2), pp.1165-1181. ⟨10.1093/gji/ggaa064⟩. ⟨hal-02561888⟩

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