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

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 (U-238/Pb-204) 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.
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Submitted on : Wednesday, August 19, 2020 - 4:07:46 PM
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James Day, Frédéric Moynier. Evaporative fractionation of volatile stable isotopes and their bearing on the origin of the Moon. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences, Royal Society, The, 2014, 372 (2024), pp.20130259. ⟨10.1098/rsta.2013.0259⟩. ⟨insu-02917657⟩



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