Widespread evidence for heterogeneous accretion of the terrestrial planets and planetisimals

Dale, C. W.; Burton, K. W.; Pearson, D. G. and Greenwood, R. C. (2011). Widespread evidence for heterogeneous accretion of the terrestrial planets and planetisimals. In: Goldschmidt Conference 2011, 14-19 Aug 2011, Prague, Czech Republic.

URL: http://www.goldschmidt2011.org/abstracts/abstractV...

Abstract

The abundance and relative proportion of highly siderophile elements (HSEs) in Earth’s mantle deviate from those predicted by low-pressure equilibrium partitioning between metal and silicate during formation of the core. For many elements, high-pressure equilibration in a deep molten silicate layer (or ‘magma ocean’) may account for this discrepancy [1], but some highly siderophile element abundances demand the late addition, a ‘late veneer’, of extraterrestrial material (i.e. heterogeneous accretion) after core formation was complete [2]. Siderophile elements in smaller asteroidal bodies will not be affected by high-pressure metal-silicate equilibration and so, with highly efficient core formation [3] and if a ‘late veneer’ is absent, significant differences in the proportions of HSEs can be anticipated.

Here we present new HSE abundance and 187Os/188Os isotope data for basaltic meteorites, the HEDs (howardites, eucrites and diogenites thought to sample the asteroid 4 Vesta), anomalous eucrites (considered to be from distinct Vesta-like parent bodies) angrites and aubrites (from unidentified parent bodies) and SNCs (thought to be from Mars). Our data, taken with those for lunar rocks [4], demonstrate that these igneous meteorites all formed from mantle sources that possessed chondritic (i.e. primitive solar system) elemental and isotope compositions, indicating that late accretion is not unique to Earth, but is a common feature of differentiated planets and asteroidal bodies. Variations in the total HSE abundance suggest that the proportion of ‘late veneer’ added is a simple consequence of the size of each body (cross-section and/or gravitational-attraction), and may account for the volatile element budget, and the oxidationstate of Earth, Mars, the Moon and Vesta.

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