Evaporative fractionation of volatile stable isotopes and their bearing on the origin of the Moon

TitleEvaporative fractionation of volatile stable isotopes and their bearing on the origin of the Moon
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsDay J.M, Moynier F.
JournalPhilos Trans A Math Phys Eng SciPhilos Trans A Math Phys Eng Sci
Volume372
Date Published2014/08
ISBN Number1364-503X (Print)<br/>1364-503X (Linking)
Accession Number25114311
Abstract

The Moon is depleted in volatile elements relative to the Earth and Mars. Low abundances of volatile elements, fractionated stable isotope ratios of S, Cl, K and Zn, high mu (238U/204Pb) and long-term Rb/Sr depletion are distinguishing features of the Moon, relative to the Earth. These geochemical characteristics indicate both inheritance of volatile-depleted materials that formed the Moon and planets and subsequent evaporative loss of volatile elements that occurred during lunar formation and differentiation. Models of volatile loss through localized eruptive degassing are not consistent with the available S, Cl, Zn and K isotopes and abundance data for the Moon. The most probable cause of volatile depletion is global-scale evaporation resulting from a giant impact or a magma ocean phase where inefficient volatile loss during magmatic convection led to the present distribution of volatile elements within mantle and crustal reservoirs. Problems exist for models of planetary volatile depletion following giant impact. Most critically, in this model, the volatile loss requires preferential delivery and retention of late-accreted volatiles to the Earth compared with the Moon. Different proportions of late-accreted mass are computed to explain present-day distributions of volatile and moderately volatile elements (e.g. Pb, Zn; 5 to >10%) relative to highly siderophile elements (approx. 0.5%) for the Earth. Models of early magma ocean phases may be more effective in explaining the volatile loss. Basaltic materials (e.g. eucrites and angrites) from highly differentiated airless asteroids are volatile-depleted, like the Moon, whereas the Earth and Mars have proportionally greater volatile contents. Parent-body size and the existence of early atmospheres are therefore likely to represent fundamental controls on planetary volatile retention or loss.

DOI10.1098/rsta.2013.0259
Short TitlePhilosophical transactions. Series A, Mathematical, physical, and engineering sciencesPhilosophical transactions. Series A, Mathematical, physical, and engineering sciences
Alternate JournalPhilosophical transactions. Series A, Mathematical, physical, and engineering sciences
Integrated Research Themes: 
Student Publication: 
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