The effect of oxygen and sulphur on the dihedral angle between Fe-O-S melt and silicate minerals at high pressure: Implications for Martian core formation

Hidenori Terasaki, Daniel J. Frost, David C. Rubie, Falko Langenhorst

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

A crucial factor in the investigation of terrestrial planet core formation is whether or not a liquid iron-alloy can segregate from a solid silicate matrix. The interconnectivity of a core-forming liquid depends on the dihedral angle between liquid iron-alloy and crystalline silicates at low melt fractions. Recent experimental studies at ambient pressure have implied that liquid iron-alloy can wet an olivine matrix under conditions of high oxygen and sulphur fugacities. We have examined the effects of varying sulphur and oxygen contents on the dihedral angle between liquid iron-alloy and crystalline silicates up to 20 GPa. The compositions studied are applicable to core formation on both the Earth and Mars and the pressure range investigated is applicable to over 80% of the depth of the entire Martian mantle. Dihedral angles in texturally equilibrated samples decrease with increasing sulphur content and also decrease significantly with increasing FeO content of silicates. Increasing the FeO content of silicates results in an increase in both the oxygen fugacity and oxygen solubility in the Fe-S melt. Oxygen is found to have a larger effect in reducing the dihedral angle than sulphur. The dihedral angle between metallic melt and silicate crystals in the Martian mantle would have been closer to the wetting boundary of 60° than in the Earth's interior, but it would be still too large (θ>60°) to allow percolation to occur to completion. These results show that melting of the silicate mantle is required to obtain complete metal-silicate separation, which therefore supports a magma ocean scenario for core formation on both Mars and Earth.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)379-392
Number of pages14
JournalEarth and Planetary Science Letters
Volume232
Issue number3-4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 15 2005
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Core formation
  • Dihedral angle
  • High pressure
  • Percolation
  • Surface energy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science

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