Status Report

Primordial Earth mantle heterogeneity caused by the Moon-forming giant impact

By SpaceRef Editor
April 4, 2019
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Hongping Deng, Maxim D. Ballmer, Christian Reinhardt, Matthias M. M. Meier, Lucio Mayer, Joachim Stadel, Federico Benitez

(Submitted on 4 Apr 2019)

The giant impact hypothesis for Moon formation successfully explains the dynamic properties of the Earth-Moon system but remains challenged by the similarity of isotopic fingerprints of the terrestrial and lunar mantles. Moreover, recent geochemical evidence suggests that the Earth’s mantle preserves ancient (or “primordial”) heterogeneity that predates the Moon-forming giant impact. Using a new hydrodynamical method, we here show that Moon-forming giant impacts lead to a stratified starting condition for the evolution of the terrestrial mantle. The upper layer of the Earth is compositionally similar to the disk, out of which the Moon evolves, whereas the lower layer preserves proto-Earth characteristics. As long as this predicted compositional stratification can at least partially be preserved over the subsequent billions of years of Earth mantle convection, the compositional similarity between the Moon and the accessible Earth’s mantle is a natural outcome of realistic and high-probability Moon-forming impact scenarios. The preservation of primordial heterogeneity in the modern Earth not only reconciles geochemical constraints but is also consistent with recent geophysical observations. Furthermore, for significant preservation of a proto-Earth reservoir, the bulk composition of the Earth-Moon system may be systematically shifted towards chondritic values.

Comments: Comments are welcome

Subjects: Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP); Geophysics (physics.geo-ph)

Cite as: arXiv:1904.02407 [astro-ph.EP] (or arXiv:1904.02407v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)

Submission history

From: Hongping DengĀ 

[v1] Thu, 4 Apr 2019 08:39:15 UTC (5,838 KB)

SpaceRef staff editor.