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Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

Spinel peridotite

Peridotite, Spinel
Photo by Penland. Click to zoom.
Catalog Number NMNH 116610-3

From the exhibit

It’s no coincidence that most of these rocks are olive green. Some of their color comes from olivine, the most abundant mineral in Earth’s upper mantle. That’s where all these rocks—called peridotites—came from. Besides telling us what the upper mantle is made of, peridotites record geological processes that take place in this inaccessible layer of Earth.

Only rocks from the top fraction of Earth’s inaccessible mantle have been brought to the surface.

Crust40 km
Upper mantle300 km
Source of peridotite xenoliths600 km


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