Widespread evidence for a late veneer on the terrestrial planets and planetisimals

Dale, C. W.; Burton, Kevin; Pearson, G. and Greenwood, Richard C. (2010). Widespread evidence for a late veneer on the terrestrial planets and planetisimals. In: American Geophysical Union, Fall Meeting 2010, 13-17 Dec 2010, San Francisco, CA, USA.

URL: http://www.agu.org/meetings/fm10/waisfm10.html


Growth of the Earth from smaller planetisimals resulted in substantial partitioning of the iron-loving (siderophile) into the metallic core. However, some of the most highly siderophile elements in Earth’s silicate mantle are present in much greater concentrations than expected, even for high-pressure equilibration in a deep ‘magma ocean’ [1], and in broadly chondritic proportions. Consequently, it is often assumed that the highly siderophile elements require the late addition of extraterrestrial material (the so called ‘late veneer’) to the mantle after core formation was complete. Core formation on smaller asteroidal bodies cannot have been affected by high-pressure equilibration, and Hf-W chronology suggests that core formation was rapid [2] and, during global scale melting, was likely highly efficient [3]. This study presents 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 and Angrites (considered to be from distinct parent bodies) and SNCs (thought to be from Mars). The results show that these igneous meteorites all formed from mantle sources that possessed broadly chondritic (i.e. primitive solar system) inter-element ratios and Os isotope compositions, inconsistent with equilibrium partitioning of the PGE. Furthermore, there is a simple relationship where predicted mantle HSE concentrations are linked to the size of the parent body, and so Vesta (like the Moon [4]) has much lower HSE concentrations than Earth or Mars. These data can be most readily explained by the late addition of a chondritic meteorite flux to the silicate mantles of all these bodies, after core formation was complete, and suggests that the addition of a late veneer is a general feature of planetary accretion in the inner solar system, rather than being a unique temporal event that only affected the Earth.

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