Polycrystalline samples of San Carlos olivine were deformed at high-pressure (2.8–7.8 GPa), high-temperature (1153 to 1670 K), and strain rates between 7.10−6 and 3.10−5 s−1, using the D-DIA apparatus. Stress and strain were measured in situ using monochromatic X-rays diffraction and imaging, respectively. Based on the evolution of lattice strains with total bulk strain and texture development, we identified three deformation regimes, one at confining pressures below 3–4 GPa, one above 4 GPa, both below 1600 K, and one involving growth of diffracting domains associated with mechanical softening above ∼1600 K. The softening is interpreted as enhanced grain boundary migration and recovery. Below 1600 K, elasto-plastic self-consistent analysis suggests that below 3–4 GPa, deformation in olivine occurs with large contribution from the so-called “a-slip” system (010). Above ∼4 GPa, the contribution of the a-slip decreases relative to that of the “c-slip” (010). This conclusion is further supported by texture refinements. Thus for polycrystalline olivine, the evolution in slip systems found by previous studies may be progressive, starting from as low as 3–4 GPa and up to 8 GPa. During such a gradual change, activation volumes measured on polycrystalline olivine cannot be linked to a particular slip system straightforwardly. The quest for “the” activation volume of olivine at high pressure should cease at the expense of detailed work on the flow mechanisms implied. Such evolution in slip systems should also affect the interpretation of seismic anisotropy data in terms of upper mantle flow between 120 and 300 km depth.
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