Origin of moderately volatile element depletion on differentiated bodies: insights from the evaporation of indium from silicate melts

Deze Liu, Frédéric Moynier, Julien Siebert, Paolo A. Sossi, Yan Hu, Edith Kubik

Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
Available online 13 October 2022


“In comparison with the Sun and CI chondrites, moderately volatile elements (MVEs) are depleted in terrestrial planets and other small, rocky differentiated bodies in the inner solar system. The abundances of most MVEs in the bulk silicate Earth (BSE) fall on a trend that defines a near log-linear decrease with their 50% nebular condensation temperature (Tc50 Tc50). This temperature scale has traditionally been used to infer elemental volatility during planetary formation and accretion, however, indium (In) deviates from this correlation. Despite being a siderophile element that could have been depleted by core formation, In is overabundant for its calculated Tc50 in the BSE, as well as in the silicate portions of other small bodies (e.g., Moon and Vesta). This overabundance of In indicates that Tc50 , calculated under nebular conditions, may not be applicable to planetary evaporation that occurs at much higher oxygen fugacity (fO2) and pressure than nominal nebular conditions. Here, we conduct a series of evaporation experiments for basaltic melts to quantify the volatility of In under conditions relevant to planetary evaporation. Our results show that, when using the evaporation temperature (Tc1 , refers to the temperature at which 1% of element i has evaporated from liquid to gas phase under equilibrium) as the volatility scale, the abundances of volatile elements, including In, of the Moon and Vesta display a progressive depletion with increasing volatility (decreasing Tc1 ). This smooth depletion pattern contrasts with the overabundance of In shown on the Tc50 scale, suggesting that volatile depletion on small bodies occurred under non-nebular environment instead of during nebular condensation. On the other hand, the volatile element composition of the BSE (including In) could be explained by integrating i) early accreted precursor materials of the proto-Earth that underwent volatile loss under conditions more oxidizing than those of the solar nebula with ii) late added volatile-rich materials.”