Cosmochemical fractionation by collisional erosion during the Earth’s accretion

Asmaa Boujibar, Denis Andrault, Nathalie Bolfan-Casanova, Mohamed Ali Bouhifd & Julien Monteux

Nature Communications 6, Article number: 8295 doi:10.1038/ncomms9295
Published 23 September 2015

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“Early in the Solar System’s history, energetic collisions of differentiated bodies affected the final composition of the terrestrial planets through partial destruction. Enstatite chondrites (EC) are the best candidates to represent the primordial terrestrial precursors as they present the most similar isotopic compositions to Earth. Here we report that collisional erosion of >15% of the early Earth’s mass can reconcile the remaining compositional differences between EC and the Earth. We base our demonstration on experimental melting of an EC composition at pressures between 1 bar and 25 GPa. At low pressures, the first silicate melts are highly enriched in incompatible elements Si, Al and Na, and depleted in Mg. Loss of proto-crusts through impacts raises the Earth’s Mg/Si ratio to its present value. To match all major element compositions, our model implies preferential loss of volatile lithophile elements and re-condensation of refractory lithophile elements after the impacts.”