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Postaragonite phases of CaCO3 at lower mantle pressures

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • Dean Smith
  • K. Lawler
  • Miguel Martinez-Canales
  • Austin W. Daykin
  • Zachary Fussell
  • G. Alexander Smith
  • Christian Childs
  • Jesse S. Smith
  • Chris J. Pickard
  • Ashkan Salamat

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Original languageEnglish
Article number013605
Pages (from-to)013605
Number of pages11
JournalPhysical Review Materials
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jan 2018


The stability, structure, and properties of carbonate minerals at lower mantle conditions have significant impact on our understanding of the global carbon cycle and the composition of the interior of the Earth. In recent years there has been significant interest in the behavior of carbonates at lower mantle conditions, specifically in their carbon hybridization, which has relevance for the storage of carbon within the deep mantle. Using high-pressure synchrotron x-ray diffraction in a diamond anvil cell coupled with direct laser heating of CaCO3 using a CO2 laser, we identify a crystalline phase of the material above 40 GPa—corresponding to a lower mantle depth of around 1000 km—which has first been predicted by ab initio structure predictions. The observed sp2 carbon hybridized species at 40 GPa is monoclinic with P21/c symmetry and is stable up to 50 GPa, above which it transforms into a structure which cannot be indexed by existing known phases. A combination of ab initio random structure search (AIRSS) and quasiharmonic approximation (QHA) calculations are used to re-explore the relative phase stabilities of the rich phase diagram of CaCO3. Nudged elastic band (NEB) calculations are used to investigate the reaction mechanisms between relevant crystal phases of CaCO3 and we postulate that the mineral is capable of undergoing sp2−sp3 hybridization change purely in the P21/c structure—forgoing the accepted postaragonite Pmmn structure.

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