In Earth’s deep interior, carbon is stored in a dynamic system of silicate rocks and aqueous fluids existing under extremely high pressures and temperatures. Studying this inaccessible system of melts and fluids requires both laboratory experiments and theoretical modeling. Unifying this research in models is a critical step toward understanding the dynamic movements of carbon in Earth.
Despite the importance of carbon transport by melts and fluids in deep Earth, there is currently no integrated model of chemical communication between the two. In a new proposal funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, Mark Ghiorso (OFM Research, USA) and Dimitri Sverjensky (Johns Hopkins University, USA) aim to address this key scientific problem. The proposed work will integrate existing thermodynamic models of magmas (MELTS) and fluids (Deep Earth Water, DEW) and form a framework for modeling mass transfer and transport of carbon and other chemical elements. This work will involve partial reformulation and recalibration of the two models so they can be made interoperable. It will also extend the models to span a continuum of liquid compositions between aqueous solutions and silicate liquids, yielding the first integrated thermodynamic model of the magma-fluid system.
This modeling effort will also leverage two newly funded grants from the US National Science Foundation. Dimitri Sverjensky will receive funding from the Division of Earth Sciences for his proposal to further develop and apply the DEW model to mantle metasomatism and diamond formation and thanks to the combined efforts of DCO’s Ghiorso, Sverjensky, Everett Shock (Arizona State University, USA), Marc Spiegelman (Columbia University, USA), Peter Fox (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, USA), and George Bergantz (University of Washington, USA) a proposal to develop computational infrastructure for application to thermodynamic and fluid dynamical modeling will be funded by the Divisions of Advanced Cyberinfrastructure and Earth Sciences.
“We are thrilled to move this project into its next phase,’” said Ghiorso. “It is thanks to the opportunities provided by the collaborative atmosphere created and nurtured by the DCO that we can implement this exciting new model.”
"As we move into the last phase of the DCO, it is very exciting to be able to build on and leverage the momentum initiated by DCO funding,” added Sverjensky.”We can look forward to collaborative endeavors that should enable dramatic discoveries about Earth's deep carbon cycle.”