12.581 | Spring 2005 | Graduate

Phase Transitions in the Earth's Interior


Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 1 session / week, 2 hours / session


Permission of instructor


Phase transitions in Earth materials at high pressures and temperatures cause the seismic discontinuities and affect the convections in the Earth’s interior. On the other hand, they enable us to constrain temperature and chemical compositions in the Earth’s interior. However, among many known phase transitions in mineral physics, only a few have been investigated in seismology and geodynamics. This course reviews important papers about phase transitions in mantle and core materials.

The topics include:

  • Olivine-wadsleyite-ringwoodite, post-spinel, post-garnet, post-ilmenite, post-perovskite, coesite-stishovite, post-stishovite, and tetragonal-cubic Ca-perovskite transitions
  • Phase transitions in Fe, Fe-Ni, Fe-S, Fe-Si, and Fe-O systems
  • Melting of silicates and iron alloys
  • Spin transitions in (Mg, Fe)SiO3 perovskite and magnesiowustite.

This course focuses on physical property changes, depth, and Clapeyron slopes of these transitions and implications for seismology and geodynamics.


This course is structured as a series of student presentations based upon the course topics. Two students give presentations each week. See the assignments section.


The course grade is based upon class participation, discussions and presentations.

Course Info

As Taught In
Spring 2005
Learning Resource Types
Presentation Assignments with Examples