Altered chemistry of oxygen and iron under deep Earth conditions

Academic Article


  • A drastically altered chemistry was recently discovered in the Fe-O-H system under deep Earth conditions, involving the formation of iron superoxide (FeO 2 Hx with x = 0 to 1), but the puzzling crystal chemistry of this system at high pressures is largely unknown. Here we present evidence that despite the high O/Fe ratio in FeO 2 Hx, iron remains in the ferrous, spin-paired and non-magnetic state at 60–133 GPa, while the presence of hydrogen has minimal effects on the valence of iron. The reduced iron is accompanied by oxidized oxygen due to oxygen-oxygen interactions. The valence of oxygen is not –2 as in all other major mantle minerals, instead it varies around –1. This result indicates that like iron, oxygen may have multiple valence states in our planet’s interior. Our study suggests a possible change in the chemical paradigm of how oxygen, iron, and hydrogen behave under deep Earth conditions.
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    Author List

  • Liu J; Hu Q; Bi W; Yang L; Xiao Y; Chow P; Meng Y; Prakapenka VB; Mao HK; Mao WL
  • Volume

  • 10
  • Issue

  • 1