The early thermal evolution of Mars

Bhatia, G. K. and Sahijpal, S.

Meteoritics & Planetary Science. doi: 10.1111/maps.12573


“Hf-W isotopic systematics of Martian meteorites have provided evidence for the early accretion and rapid core formation of Mars. We present the results of numerical simulations performed to study the early thermal evolution and planetary scale differentiation of Mars. The simulations are confined to the initial 50 Myr (Ma) of the formation of solar system. The accretion energy produced during the growth of Mars and the decay energy due to the short-lived radio-nuclides 26Al, 60Fe, and the long-lived nuclides, 40K, 235U, 238U, and 232Th are incorporated as the heat sources for the thermal evolution of Mars. During the core-mantle differentiation of Mars, the molten metallic blobs were numerically moved using Stoke’s law toward the center with descent velocity that depends on the local acceleration due to gravity. Apart from the accretion and the radioactive heat energies, the gravitational energy produced during the differentiation of Mars and the associated heat transfer is also parametrically incorporated in the present work to make an assessment of its contribution to the early thermal evolution of Mars. We conclude that the accretion energy alone cannot produce widespread melting and differentiation of Mars even with an efficient consumption of the accretion energy. This makes 26Al the prime source for the heating and planetary scale differentiation of Mars. We demonstrate a rapid accretion and core-mantle differentiation of Mars within the initial ~1.5 Myr. This is consistent with the chronological records of Martian meteorites.”