Original paper

Local redox buffering by carbon at low pressures and the formation of moissanite – natural SiC

Shiryaev, Andrei A.; Gaillard, Fabrice

Abstract

Grains of natural SiC, moissanite, are encountered in various geological settings. According to thermodynamic calculations and high-pressure experiments, SiC formation requires very reducing conditions, approx. 6–10 orders of magnitude in fO2 more reducing than the present-day mantle redox state. SiC occurrences have motivated several studies but the required extremely reducing conditions remain a major inconsistency that has not been solved. It is shown here that such reducing conditions can be achieved during the ultimate steps of ascent of carbon-saturated melts, when pressure is lower than 100 bars. At these conditions, the redox buffering by carbon can impose fO2 similar to IW-6. Conditions favorable to SiC growth can therefore be reached around carbonaceous grains during the shallow emplacement of silicate melts or kimberlites and do not necessarily imply extremely localized oxygen-depleted regions in the mantle. Such reduced conditions can also explain the presence of elemental Si and ironcarbide inclusions in association with moissanite grains.

Keywords

carboreductionmantle redox statemoissanitesilicon carbidethermodynamic modeling