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Primordial Earth Mantle Heterogeneity Caused by the Moon-forming Giant Impact?


Deng, Hongping; Ballmer, Maxim D; Reinhardt, Christian; Meier, Matthias M M; Mayer, Lucio; Stadel, Joachim; Benitez, Federico (2019). Primordial Earth Mantle Heterogeneity Caused by the Moon-forming Giant Impact? The Astrophysical Journal, 887(2):211-222.

Abstract

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 pre-dates 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, a 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 major-element composition of the Earth–Moon system may be systematically shifted toward chondritic values.

Abstract

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 pre-dates 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, a 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 major-element composition of the Earth–Moon system may be systematically shifted toward chondritic values.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute for Computational Science
Dewey Decimal Classification:530 Physics
Scopus Subject Areas:Physical Sciences > Astronomy and Astrophysics
Physical Sciences > Space and Planetary Science
Uncontrolled Keywords:Space and Planetary Science, Astronomy and Astrophysics
Language:English
Date:19 December 2019
Deposited On:14 Feb 2020 08:26
Last Modified:29 Jul 2020 13:42
Publisher:IOP Publishing
ISSN:1538-4357
OA Status:Green
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.3847/1538-4357/ab50b9

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